Marburg Virus

This genetically unique, animal-borne RNA virus was first recognized in 1967, when outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever occurred throughout laboratories in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany and Belgrade, Yugoslavia. A total of 31 people became ill, 7 of whom died. The first people infected had been exposed to African green monkeys or their tissues. In Marburg, the monkeys had been imported for the research and development of a polio vaccine.

Marburg hemorrhagic fever is clinically indistinguishable from Ebola hemorrhagic fever and similarly characterized by severe internal bleeding or bleeding from body orifices (e.g., mouth, eyes, and ears). Within a couple of weeks, the illness progresses into its final stage and may result in convulsions, coma, shock, and/or death.

References: CDC / Wikipedia.
Photo Credit: Tom Geisbert at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA.

Making sense of Ebola


Information and indeed misinformation about Ebola spread with speed and vigour comparable to the disease itself, but with such a deluge of often misleading news in light of the recent outbreaks in West Africa, it can be difficult to discern the valuable from the reactionary.


To fully appreciate both the threat of disease and the beauty of the etiologic agents, it is useful to start at the beginning. Ebola Virus disease (EVD), also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) first emerged in Yambuku, Zaire, home to the Ebola river after which the disease is named. Ebola viruses are Group V ((-)ssRNA) viruses; Order: Mononegavirales; Family: Filoviridae; Genus: Ebolavirus.

The Ebolavirus genus is comprised of 5 species each named after the location of their initial emergence. Of the 5, Zaire ebolavirus is the type species:

  • Species: Tai Forest ebolavirus
  • Virus: Tai Forest virus (formerly Cote d’Ivoire ebolavirus)
  • Species: Reston ebolavirus
  • Virus: Reston virus
  • Species: Sudan ebolavirus
  • Virus: Sudan virus
  • Species: Zaire ebolavirus 
  • Virus: Ebola virus
  • Species: Bundibugyo ebolavirus
  • Virus: Bundibugyo virus

A virus species is defined as a polythetic class of viruses which constitute a replicating lineage, occupying a specific ecological niche. To contextualise this, the virus behind the recent ongoing Ebola outbreak in Guinea and elsewhere in West Africa is Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus) (found to be 97% identical to those found previously in the Congo and Gabon by Baize et al.) Whereas the virus responsible for the 2012 Ebola outbreak in Orientale Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo was Bundibugyo virus. Understandably, this can cause confusion among both the public and experts and can make it difficult to understand the epidemiology and virology of Ebola outbreaks.

The family Filoviridae to which Ebolaviruses belong are so named due to their characteristic thread-like appearance and are not a welcome sight for any virologist, even those operating within the stringent confines of a Biosafety Level-4 containment facility. These images and indeed the catastrophic symptoms they herald in those infected have crystallised Ebola in the nightmares of many. 



A staggering 90% of those suffering with Ebola die within days of the onset of symptoms and there are no treatments or preventative measures beyond containment due to the relative rarity of outbreaks. On July 6, 2014, the Guinea Ministry of Health announced a total of 408 suspect and confirmed cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), including 307 fatal cases.

Incubation periods of Ebola hemorrhagic fever may range from as little as one day to several weeks, making it wildly unpredictable and difficult to control. Furthermore, initial symptoms of Ebola are ambiguous and similar to those observed in other tropical fevers, including headaches, joint and muscle pain and a high fever; this further serves to delay control efforts and quarantines. For the unfortunate majority, these initial stages generally progress to the catastrophic haemorrhagic stage for which the disease is infamous. Victims frequently suffer from bloody vomit and diarrhoea as well as a haemorrhagic rash which covers the skin, eyes and mucous membranes. Dramatic blood loss occurs from every orifice and this disastrous final stage leads to death from exsanguination and multiple organ failure within hours.

This dramatic haemorrhaging is not entirely under the control of the virus but rather results from the hosts immune response to the disease. Host antibodies flood the circulation, clogging the blood stream and attacking blood vessels leading to sustained, heavy internal bleeding.


Vectors and Transmission

Both the dead and the surviving Ebola victims remain contagious for over a month, shedding the viruses in their tears, blood, saliva, faeces and even semen. It is for this reason that outbreaks of Ebola are not considered to be over unless there have been no further cases for a 2 month period following the death or recovery of the last victim.

Little is known about the natural reservoirs of Ebolaviruses, nor is there any clear evidence to suggest a definitive vector. With each outbreak of the disease scientists are able to learn more, but certainly in the case of the most recent outbreak, the virus, as ever, appears without constraint and several steps ahead as we scramble to keep up.

Further information

A team of international researchers has discovered a new Ebola-like virus — Lloviu virus — in bats from northern Spain. Lloviu virus is the first known filovirus native to Europe, they report in a study published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

The study was a collaboration among scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII) in Spain, Roche Life Sciences, Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe, Grupo Asturiano para el Estudio y Conservación de los Murciélagos, Consejo Suerior de Investigaciones Científicas and the Complutense University in Spain.

Filoviruses, which include well-known viruses like Ebola and Marburg, are among the deadliest pathogens in humans and non-human primates, and are generally found in East Africa and the Philippines. The findings thus expand the natural geographical distribution of filoviruses.

Primary source: PLoS Pathogens

((this is kind of frightening!  O_O))

I’ve often been asked, “What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?” when someone is looking for a horror novel recommendation. Invariably, I recommend this one: The Hot Zone by Richard Preston.

The kicker: This is non-fiction. It recounts several cases of Ebola, Marburg and Reston virus outbreaks around the world and is written in the format of a thriller/page-turner. At times it is unbearably disgusting, describing how these viruses affect the human body (the host ultimately erupts with a black viral blood from all orifices), how it spreads and how it is handled in research quarters. 

At times, this book is unbearably tense and very difficult to read as a result. Viruses are seriously diabolical life forms and in light of a recent African outbreak (the worst in recorded history: this book definitely warrants your attention.

anonymous said:

You really think the government would tell the masses about an airborne virus that is past government control? The truth is they wouldn't. People would panic and it would cause a social and economic disruption. EBOLA IS AIRBORNE. STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT THE DISEASE TRAVELED FROM MONKEYS TO PIGS IN TWO SEPARATE CAGES, THE ANIMALS NEVER MADE CONTACT. IT IS AIRBORNE AND JOURNALISTS ARE SPREADING MISINFORMATION.

It is airborne in monkeys that is known but there are a few differences in monkey and human DNA. It is also airborne in fruit bats (Pteropodidae type only) which is the natural host.

The virus is NOT airborne in human beings. There is a high likely hood that it could mutate further and become airborne but as of right now it is not. There would be reports from other country’s health departments if that were true. The United States is not the only ones watching the African outbreak. 

The only ‘airborne’ Ebola would be droplets of mucus/vomit expelled during violent coughing or vomiting. Ebola belongs to a group of viruses called filoviruses which aren’t airborne. 

The end. 

Outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea: Ecology Meets Economy

Outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea: Ecology Meets Economy

Ebola virus is back – but why?

Ebola virus is back, this time in West Africa, with over 350 cases and a 69% case fatality ratio. The culprit is the Zaire ebolavirus species, the most lethal Ebola virus known, with case fatality ratios up to 90%. The epicenter and site of first introduction is the region of Guéckédou in Guinea’s remote southeastern forest region, spilling over into various other…

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Ebolavirus (EBOV)

Seriously, today is E and I am talking about viruses; how could I not choose Ebola? Well this nasty little Filovirus causes Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, the mortality of which can be from 50-89%, depending on what species you have attacking your endothelial cells. EBOV is kept at a biosafety level 4, right up there with smallpox and all those other highly lethal aerosol-transmitted pathogens.  EBOV is also considered to be a prime target for biological weaponization.  If this ever happens, I want to die as one of the 15% of people that displayed hiccups as a symptom.

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I’m too cool to watch tv i watch video game streams.

Qu'est-ce qu'Ebola ?

La maladie à virus Ebola de la famille des filovirus (autrefois appelée aussi fièvre hémorragique à virus Ebola) peut atteindre un taux de létalité entre 25% et 75%.

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What exactly IS Ebola?

Ebola first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

Genus Ebolavirus is 1 of 3 members of the Filoviridae family (filovirus), along with genus Marburgvirus and genus Cuevavirus. Genus Ebolavirus comprises 5 distinct species:

  • Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV)
  • Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV)
  • Reston ebolavirus (RESTV)
  • Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV)
  • Taï Forest ebolavirus (TAFV).

BDBV, EBOV, and SUDV have been associated with large EVD outbreaks in Africa, whereas RESTV and TAFV have not. The RESTV species, found in Philippines and the People’s Republic of China, can infect humans, but no illness or death in humans from this species has been reported to date.

In October 1976, the government of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC]) asked what was then the U.S. Center for Disease Control, where we worked, to join an international group of scientists in elucidating and controlling an outbreak of an unusually lethal hemorrhagic fever. Just before we arrived in Zaire, our laboratory had used virologic and immunologic tests to identify the cause as a new filovirus, and we brought electron micrographs of the agent.1 In Zaire, we became, respectively, the chief of surveillance, epidemiology, and control and the scientific director of the International Commission for the Investigation and Control of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever in Zaire.

The 2013–2014 outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) has much in common with the 1976 outbreak. Both were caused by Zaire ebolavirus 2 and began in rural forest communities, where wild game is hunted for food (though no animal has been implicated as the trigger of these outbreaks). Severely ill patients came to provincial hospitals with systemic illness resembling malaria, typhoid, Lassa fever, yellow fever, or influenza. Unsuspecting hospital staff had contact with patients’ blood and body fluids, which amplified the outbreaks. Cases were exported to cities, and chains of transmission were established.

In 1976, in the 120-bed Yambuku Mission Hospital (YMH) in Zaire, the virus initially spread through use of unsterilized syringes and needles. Of the hospital’s 17 staff members, 13 became sick, and 11 died.3 The hospital was closed when the medical director and three Belgian missionaries died from Ebola. Many infected people and their contacts fled to their home villages out of fear and suspicion of the nonfunctioning Western medical system, seeking treatment from traditional healers.

Several factors contributed to stopping Ebola’s spread and facilitated investigations, beginning with careful attention to our commission’s leadership, organization, coordination, administration, logistics, and communications and a series of rapid actions. The minister of health, the overall authority for commission activities who reported directly to the Council of Ministers and President Mobutu Sese Seko, convened daily meetings for sharing information and defining action steps. We had more than 70 people working in the field, with backup in Kinshasa, Antwerp, and Atlanta.

Five commission members went to the village of Yambuku almost immediately to define the geographic extent of the outbreak, find active cases, find possible survivors for a plasmapheresis program, and assess needs for clinical care and laboratory facilities. Other members remained in Kinshasa to care for hospitalized patients, enforce surveillance and isolation of contacts, marshal resources, and assess options.

The government had quarantined the 275,000 people in Bumba Zone — no commercial planes or boats could land there, and citizens were told not to leave their villages or allow strangers to enter. People lacked basic commodities and were fearful and agitated. We explained to them that we knew what caused the outbreak and showed authorities the electron micrograph. People along the road from the town of Bumba to Yambuku were relieved when we said we’d come to stop the disease’s spread, treat patients, and meet their families.

Some patients had been placed in huts outside their villages — a common practice for isolating patients with smallpox. We encouraged this practice and the designation of one family member — preferably someone who had recovered from the illness — to bring each patient food and medicines until we established a clinical care unit at the mission hospital. When patients died, traditional rites were abbreviated, a practice we encouraged. We advised that bodies be covered with hypochlorite disinfectant (bleach), wrapped in shrouds, and buried without the usual washing and prolonged contact with relatives and friends. Isolation huts and patients’ garments were burned in many villages.

Although YMH had been closed, villagers trusted the hospital and the mission staff, and trained personnel were needed for acute health problems. A Zairean doctor was therefore assigned to the hospital, and credibility was gradually restored, especially when we began visiting villages accompanied by the three remaining nuns.

In November, our clinical and laboratory teams moved to Yambuku, since transmission had stopped in Kinshasa. We shipped a generator, a refrigerated centrifuge, a plastic glove box equipped for negative pressure (see slide show, available with the full text of this article at, an immunofluorescent microscope and immunofluorescence-assay (IFA) slides, plasmapheresis equipment, liquid nitrogen tanks, personal protective materials, and assorted supplies — and a single-sideband radio for improved communication with Kinshasa.

But our most important tool was house-by-house visits. It was difficult to get medical staff to participate in field activities, so the national vaccination program, sleeping-sickness program, and smallpox–monkeypox surveillance program assigned us mobile teams, and the health minister ordered clinicians from the university hospital and public health services to join us. We assured all team members that they would be treated equally if they became ill. We advised them to take antimalarial medications, record their temperatures daily, and report elevated temperatures or other signs or symptoms of EVD to their team leader or us. When a Peace Corps volunteer working with blood specimens became ill with fever, headache, malaise, and rash, he was evacuated to a South African hospital — where he was discovered not to have EVD (and recovered).

Ten four-person surveillance teams — led by a physician or nurse and trained in recognizing the features of EVD and other common diseases, interview techniques, patient isolation, and personal protection — visited 550 villages at least twice over a 2-month period; the 55 villages where Ebola was found were visited a third time. Patient identification was facilitated by the local tradition of shaving one’s head when in mourning for a relative (see slide show). The teams had personal protective gear consisting of surgical scrubs, gloves, goggles, paper gowns, masks, caps, and booties. They brought standardized clinical and epidemiologic forms, first-aid kits, thermometers, antimalarials, antibiotics, and antipyretics. Any febrile person with suspected EVD was given medicines, advised to stay home with limited contacts, and visited again shortly thereafter. The teams were supervised by an epidemiologist or microbiologist who assessed possible active or recovered cases. Special teams went to selected communities for in-depth studies and to collect blood for IFA testing.

The epidemic had peaked before we arrived; there were a total of 318 cases and 280 deaths, but we saw few active cases. The virus spread only through injection with an unsterilized needle or very close and repeated patient contact (see graphs).4 The median incubation period was 6 days among people infected through the common outpatient practice of intramuscular injection and 8 days among those infected through person-to-person contact (range, 1 to 21 days).4 The secondary attack rate was low — 5.6% among all family contacts; in only one instance did we find five chains of transmission. It was decided that quarantine of an area could end after 42 days (double the maximum incubation period) without a new case. Cohorts of contacts were isolated together for 21 days in two instances: first a group of Yambuku students and then Kinshasa hospital staff.5

Overall, we found that coordination of partners, transparency, and clear designation of authority and responsibilities were essential. We assuaged fear by working closely with national and local leaders, explaining what we knew and didn’t know, and promising to remain in the area, treat patients, visit villages, and give evidence-based guidance. Reopening YMH addressed the community’s daily needs, and our field IFA system permitted rapid diagnosis. Assuring international and Zairean health and support workers that they would be treated equally if they became ill helped us keep dedicated workers in the field. One dilemma was whether to care for sick team members locally or to evacuate them, which could delay treatment and expose many other people to the disease. The recent cases of two U.S. aid workers who were treated with an experimental therapy and then flown to Atlanta underscore such ethical questions.

In the current Ebola epidemic, we believe that the main priorities should be adequate staff for rigorous identification, surveillance, and care of patients and primary contacts; strict isolation of patients; good clinical care; and rapid, culturally sensitive disposal of infectious cadavers. Timely control will require convincing community leaders and health staff that isolation and rapid burial practices are mandatory; that patients can be cared for safely in improved local conditions; and that only trained, qualified, and properly equipped health staff should have patient contact.

These steps from the first Ebola outbreak may help bring the current epidemic under control. We also await key virologic, clinical, epidemiologic, and anthropologic descriptions of the epidemic — which will permit comparison with the other Ebola outbreaks that have occurred since 1976 and help us prepare for future outbreaks.

Another day, another headline in #TimesSquare. Who wants to be a part of history⁉️ FINAL WEEK to back our #EBOLAproject. #ebola #biotech #startup #experiment #laboratory #filovirus #marburg #zaire #sierraleone #liberia #guinea #kenema #freetown #westafrica #EBOV #medicine #mdphd #mstp #premed #virology #therapy #vaccine #disruptingbiotech #startuplife by brainsurgerydropout

Search for Ebola immune response targets

The effort to develop therapeutics and a vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) requires a complex understanding of the microorganism and its relationship within the host, especially the immune response. Adding to the challenge, EVD can be caused by any one of five known species within the genus Ebolavirus (EBOV), in the Filovirus family.

via Latest Science News — ScienceDaily