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Filoviruses (Ebola and Marburg)

Viruses in the family Filoviridae are zoonotic pathogens that can cause severe hemorrhagic fever in people and nonhuman primates and may spread in other animals, such as bats. Filoviruses are single-stranded RNA viruses.

Ebola virus disease was first identified in 1976 when two outbreaks of fatal hemorrhagic fever occurred in different parts of Central Africa. The first outbreak occurred in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a village near the Ebola River. The second outbreak occurred in what is now South Sudan. Since then, six different species of ebolavirus have been discovered, four of which are known to cause disease in people. Scientists have not determined the host for Ebola virus, although bats are likely involved and may be the reservoir.

Marburg virus was first discovered in 1967 in laboratory workers in Marburg, Germany and Yugoslavia who developed hemorrhagic fever after handling tissues from green monkeys. Marburg reemerged in 1975 in a cluster of 3 cases in South Africa. Since then, Marburg has emerged sporadically, including two large epidemics in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 1998-2000 and Angola from 2004-2005. The reservoir host of Marburg virus is the African fruit bat, but further study is needed to determine if other species may also serve as hosts.

Factors like population growth, encroachment into forested areas, and direct interaction with wildlife (such as bushmeat consumption) may contribute to the introduction of filoviruses into human populations. Once a person is infected, filoviruses can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with an infected person’s body fluids. Those at highest risk of infection are caretakers and healthcare providers who do not use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

Ebola virus disease is caused by the Ebola virus and is one of a number of hemorrhagic fever diseases. Ebola virus disease causes severe illness in which 50-90 percent of those infected die. Ebola disease was first discovered in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) near the Ebola River.

Ebola symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and lack of appetite. Some patients have a rash, red eyes, hiccups, cough, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or bleeding inside and outside the body.

Symptoms usually start 4-10 days after coming into contact with Ebola virus but can occur as early as 2 days to up to 21 days after exposure.

Health care providers caring for Ebola patients, and family and friends in close contact with an ill person are at highest risk because they may come into contact with blood or body fluids.

Marburg Virus Disease (MVD)

Marburg virus disease is caused by the Marburg virus and is another hemorrhagic fever disease. Marburg virus disease causes severe illness in which 23-90 percent of those infected die.

MVD symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and maculopapular rash most prominent on the trunk. Some patients may also have nausea, vomiting, chest pain, sore throat, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.

Symptoms can start 2-21 days after coming into contact with Marburg virus; rash may occur about 5 days after initial symptom onset.

Health care providers caring for Marburg patients, and family and friends in close contact with an ill person are at highest risk because they may come into contact with blood or body fluids.

Recent MVD Outbreaks

Equatorial Guinea Outbreak
On February 13, 2023, government officials in Equatorial Guinea declared a Marburg outbreak. Ministry of Health staff initially reported one confirmed case and additional suspect cases in Ebebiyin, Kie-Ntem Province, in the northeast corner of the country. Information on the additional suspect cases is currently limited.

CDC is providing assistance as requested and sent a team of scientists with expertise in epidemiology and laboratory testing to support local health officials in outbreak response activities. The team is assisting with case investigation, contact tracing, and laboratory training.

Tanzania Outbreak
On March 21, 2023, Tanzania government officials declared the country’s first ever outbreak of Marburg. The cases have been reported in the country’s northwest Kagera region. Information on additional suspect cases is limited at this time. CDC is watching the situation closely.

Resources for the General Public

Resources for Healthcare Providers

State of Alaska Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan

Public Health Alerts




For archived Public Health Alerts, please visit the PHAN Archive.

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