Marburg is a close relative of the Ebola virus with several similarities including a terrify fatality rate above 80%. State officials in Uganda announced yesterday a confirmed death related to the deadly virus in Kampala marking the first reported case since 2012 when the last outbreak occurred in the region.
The index case is a Health Care worker who developed symptoms last week. Samples sent for testing confirmed that Marburg was responsible. According to the Ugandan government at least 80 contacts have been identified and are being traced. The brother of the first case in 2014 has developed symptoms and has been placed in isolation while awaiting test results. No details are available surrounding the source of the transmission to the index case.
Marburg and Ebola are both Filoviridae and considered to be extremely lethal. The World Health Organization classifies any Filovirus as Bio-Safety Level 4. Marburg like Ebola typically causes viral hemorrhagic fever marked by the onset of headaches and fever before rapidly accelerating toward complete destruction of the host’s cellular system.
A key difference between Marburg and Ebola is the incubation time. Marburg has a typical incubation time of 2 weeks while Ebola has been documented to have an incubation time as long as 3 weeks. Marburg was first observed in 1967 when it infected 31 individuals across then West Germany and former Yugoslavia claiming 7 lives. The former Soviet Union famously experimented with Marburg (MARV) as a potential bio weapon.
The 2014 Ugandan outbreak is the 3rd active outbreak in 2014 attributed to a Filovirus, The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is not related to the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo and therefore counts as separate epidemics. At present no cause or reason for the increased number of outbreaks is known and can be considered mere coincidence.