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Marburg Virus Disease (MVD)

Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) is a viral hemorrhagic fever that is a part of the same family as Ebola viruses. MVD is a severe, often deadly disease that affects both humans and non-human primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). The disease is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and has appeared in sporadic outbreaks since its discovery. Marburg was first recognized in 1967, when simultaneous outbreaks occurred in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany and in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia).

The reservoir for Marburg is the Egyptian rousette bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus), a type of fruit bat native to Africa. It is unknown how Marburg virus first spread from animal to human, but two previous cases have shown exposure to infected bat feces or aerosols as the likely routes of infection. Once a human becomes infected, transmission can occur to others through direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person or with objects contaminated with the infected secretions. The spread of MVD between people has occurred in close environments and among direct contacts. This makes family members, friends, caregivers, and other close contacts the most at risk to get MVD.

Symptoms for MVD can appear after a period of 2-21 days. After this time period, symptoms begin abruptly with fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches and pain. After three days, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, chest pain, diarrhea, and a sore throat may appear. Around the fifth day after the beginning of symptoms, a maculopapular rash (discolored skin with raised bumps) generally around the trunk (chest, back, stomach), may occur. Over time, symptoms become increasingly severe and can include severe weight loss, shock, delirium, liver failure and inflammation of the pancreas.

In the previous outbreaks of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD), only one US traveler was diagnosed MVD. Although there is potential for more cases, the general public is not at risk. Only persons having direct contact with someone who has MVD, or that person’s contaminated surroundings are at risk. Household members, family, and healthcare providers who are in close contact with someone with MVD must take steps to protect themselves from contact with blood or bodily fluids. 

  • Check the CDC traveler’s health website at for warnings and advisories prior to travel to learn what is currently occurring in the area you plan to visit.
  • Practice careful hygiene. Avoid contact with blood and bodily fluids of ill people.  Do not handle items that may have touched another person’s blood or bodily fluids.
  • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that involve handling the body of someone who died from suspected or confirmed Marburg.
  • Avoid contact with fruit bats and non-human primates, items these animals have touched, or their raw meat. Avoid areas known to be inhabited by fruit bats (such as mines and caves).

  • Get medical care right away if you have a fever greater than 100.4°F, severe headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding. Before you go to the doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell your doctor about your recent travel or contact with a person who was sick with MVD and your symptoms. Calling before visiting the doctor will help the medical staff care for you and protect other individuals who may be in the doctor’s office or emergency room. When traveling to get medical care, limit your contact with others.

Marburg Virus Disease Resources