IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers| IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers|

Marburg Virus Disease

Photo By: Jackie Garces

Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) is a viral infection caused by the Marburg virus belonging to the Filoviridae family. It is a zoonosis – an animal disease that can spread to humans – believed to be transmitted by African fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) to humans. Person to person transmission occurs when coming into contact with the blood and bodily secretions of infected persons or cadavers without proper infection control gear (masks, gloves, and gowns) or coming in direct contact with unsterilized medical instruments, infected blood products and organs.


The virus is found in sub-Saharan Africa. Cave explorers and mining workers are at higher risk of exposure. Persons working in healthcare settings are also at greater risk, especially if working in unhygienic conditions and adequate protective equipment is not available.


Symptoms usually appear 2 to 21 days after exposure and include sudden fever, muscle pain, headache, and intense weakness. The illness progresses to a sore throat, abdominal and chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea and a skin rash typically around the body trunk. Some people develop the hemorrhagic form of the illness which includes internal and external bleeding, liver and kidney malfunction, severe weight loss, delirium, and shock. Treatment includes oral rehydration or intravenous fluids to offset dehydration and supportive care of symptoms. Some of the symptoms associated with Marburg Virus Disease can be misdiagnosed for Ebola Virus Disease and other infections such as Malaria and Typhoid Fever.


Travellers going to affected areas should refrain from visiting households or healthcare settings that have been affected by a Marburg Virus Disease outbreak. Those who care for patients with suspected or confirmed MVD cases should wear protective gowns, gloves, masks, as well as a face shield.

There is currently no preventive medication or vaccine against Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever.

Marburg virus images, life cycle, and distribution maps:

Infection Landscapes

Information last updated: January 2020

Travel Health Journal