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Stopping infected patient

Symptoms of Ebola and Marburg Viruses

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Now that the first case of the Ebola virus has been reported in the US, it’s more important than ever to understand how this virus works. Both the Ebola and Marburg viruses are from the same virus family and behave in roughly similar manners. In order to safeguard your family’s physical and mental health, it’s wise to learn what symptoms to look for in your family and friends.

Differences between Marburg and Ebola

While both Ebola and Marburg are members of the Filoviridae family of viruses, Marburg has been around longer. In 1967, lab workers discovered Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Germany after contracting the illness while handling the infected tissue of monkeys. Ebola wasn’t identified in Africa until 1978 when two different strains appeared. Unlike Marburg, Ebola currently has five different subvirus strains deadly to primates, although only four of those affect humans.

It is currently believed that Ebola hemorrhagic fever is deadlier than Marburg. Current estimated mortality rates from Ebola and Marburg are 90% and 60%, respectively.

Early symptoms

In the early stages of both Marburg and Ebola, it can be easy to confuse the virus with other illnesses, including malaria, typhoid and the flu. The most common early stage symptoms are:

  • Achy joints
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Severe headaches
  • Weakness

Typically, these symptoms present themselves relatively early in both types of hemorrhagic fever. With Marburg, people experience symptoms within five to 10 days of exposure. While Ebola symptoms can present as early as two days after exposure, it’s been known to take up to 21 days for an infected person to begin feeling ill.

Later symptoms

As the viruses reproduce in the body, symptoms can begin to increase rapidly, often resulting in death. The late stage symptoms unique to Marburg are:

  • Delirium
  • Liver failure
  • Shock

In both Ebola and Marburg, the advanced symptoms of the virus can include:

  • Bruising
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • External Bleeding
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Nausea
  • Raised rash
  • Red rash
  • Severe weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

Since even the more advanced symptoms of these viruses still mimic a variety of other conditions – from respiratory infections to food poisoning – it’s critical to remain calm. The Mayo Clinic reminds people who’ve come in contact with infected people that their risk of contracting the virus “is extremely low unless you’ve had direct contact with the body fluids of an infected person or animal.” For you own peace of mind, it’s recommended to schedule an appointment for testing as soon as possible after exposure.

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