Ebola family: Deadly Marburg virus: Nine dead in Central Africa - what you need to know

Again, it's a virus making headlines.

Ebola family: Deadly Marburg virus: Nine dead in Central Africa - what you need to know

Again, it's a virus making headlines. This time it is the Marburg virus, which is related to the Ebola virus. Nine people in Equatorial Guinea died from the virus between January 7th and February 7th, according to government sources. Another "suspicious" death on February 10 is under investigation.

Health Minister Mitoha Ondo'o Ayekaba said on Monday that in consultation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UNO), a "health alert" had been declared for Kié-Ntem province and the neighboring district of Mongomo in the north-east of the country. More than 4,000 people have been quarantined.

The Marburg virus is considered extremely contagious. The probability of dying from an infection is high. These are the most important facts about zoonosis.

The Marburg virus is a zoonosis, i.e. an infectious disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans or from humans to animals. Like the Ebola virus, the Marburg virus belongs to the Filoviridae family and is one of the hemorrhagic (roughly: bleeding, causing bleeding) fever diseases. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the disease is also “very similar to Ebola fever in terms of transmission, incubation period, severity and management”.

The disease first broke out in 1967. The scene of the outbreak was Marburg in Germany. At that time, seven people died. Since the viruses were discovered, outbreaks have occurred almost exclusively on the African continent, especially south of the Sahara. The largest outbreak to date was recorded in Angola in 2005. More than 200 people died at that time.

It is highly probable that bats and flying foxes are the natural reservoir of the virus. These transmit the virus through direct contact or through the exchange of fluids. Eating infected wild meat ("bush meat") can also lead to infection. The virus is also transmitted from person to person in direct contact, mainly via body fluids such as infected blood, secretions or semen. Infection is also possible via aerosols. The incubation period is between five and ten days.

Infected people are contagious at least as long as they show symptoms and have virus in their blood. The higher the viral load, the higher the risk of infection.

Infection with the Marburg virus is usually severe and often fatal. According to the World Health Organization, the probability of dying from the infection is up to 88 percent. In addition to fever, headache and muscle pain, symptoms also include bleeding and vomiting blood.

A remedy for the Marburg virus is not yet on the market. Therefore, only specific symptoms are treated.