1967 Marburg virus outbreak

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1967 Marburg virus outbreak was the first recorded outbreak of Marburg virus disease, a rare but severe hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola. The outbreak occurred in 1967 in Marburg, Germany, and simultaneously in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), and Frankfurt, Germany. It was caused by exposure to tissues from infected green monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops) imported from Uganda. The outbreak resulted in 31 infections and 7 deaths.

Background[edit | edit source]

The Marburg virus is a member of the Filoviridae family, which also includes the viruses that cause Ebola virus disease. These viruses are known for their high mortality rates and the absence of approved vaccines or antiviral treatments at the time of the outbreak. The 1967 outbreak was the first time the Marburg virus was identified, leading to its recognition as a new type of viral hemorrhagic fever.

Outbreak[edit | edit source]

The outbreak began in laboratories in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany, and in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where researchers were exposed to tissues from green monkeys. The initial symptoms, which appeared after an incubation period of 5 to 10 days, included fever, chills, headache, and muscle pain. As the disease progressed, patients developed a maculopapular rash, severe hemorrhagic manifestations, and, in some cases, organ failure leading to death.

The outbreak was contained through quarantine measures, and the source was traced back to the infected monkeys. This event highlighted the risks associated with handling primate tissues and led to increased biosecurity measures in laboratories.

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

The 1967 Marburg virus outbreak prompted further research into viral hemorrhagic fevers and the development of diagnostic tests to identify the virus. It also raised awareness about the potential for similar viruses to cause outbreaks in human populations. The identification of the Marburg virus paved the way for the discovery of the Ebola virus in 1976, which is caused by a virus closely related to the Marburg virus.

Impact[edit | edit source]

The outbreak had a significant impact on public health policies, leading to the establishment of more stringent guidelines for the handling of potentially infectious materials in research and clinical settings. It also underscored the importance of surveillance and rapid response to emerging infectious diseases.

See also[edit | edit source]


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD