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Marburg Heamorrhagic Fever

Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases: Marburg Heamorrhagic Fever

Causal agent
Marburg virus of the Filoviridae family.

Marburg haemorrhagic fever is caused by the same family of viruses that causes Ebola haemorrhagic fever. Clinically they are almost indistinguishable.

Common clinical features
Sudden onset of fever, malaise, myalgia, diarrhoea, hypotension and shock, vomiting, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and in some cases internal and external bleeding.

Case fatality rates are between 50-90%.


  • Marburg haemorrhagic fever was first recognised in 1967 following outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt, German and Belgrade among laboratory workers handling African green monkeys from Uganda1.
  • MHF is rare, and has only been documented in parts of Uganda, Western Kenya, Zimbabwe (possibly), Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).

Unknown possibly primate.

Mode of transmission

  • Person to person via contact with bodily secretions, organs and blood of infected individuals.
  • Transmission via infected semen can occur up to seven weeks after clinical recovery.
  • Nosocomial transmission occurs frequently during outbreaks.

Incubation period
3-9 days.

Period of Communicability
During acute illness.

No specific treatment is indicated.

No effective treatment is available. Severe cases require intensive supportive care.

Prevention and control
There is no vaccine against Marburg haemorrhagic fever.

Strict isolation


  1. World Health Organization, Marburg Haemorrhagic Fever Fact Sheet, March 2005.

© CM Kirwan 2006