Marburg virus: Bats are the bad guys

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 10, 2007

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientists have for the first time identified Marburg virus infection in a common species of African fruit bat.

Marburg virus causes severe, often fatal, hemorrhagic fever. Disease outbreaks caused by this virus, as well as the related Ebola virus, result in the death of 80% to 90% of those who are infected. With no vaccines or drug therapies available, outbreaks -- which thus far have been rare and limited to sub-Saharan Africa -- can start abruptly and spread quickly.

Bats have long been suspected of carrying the virus, but until now, proof has been elusive. This work, however, done in collaboration with the International Center for Medical Research and the Institute for Research and Development, both in Franceville, Gabon, represents the first time that Marburg virus genetic material and specific antibodies have both confirmed the presence of Marburg infection in specific bat species. It is also the first study to document evidence of Marburg virus in the central African country of Gabon.

These results were published Aug. 21 in the open access journal, PloS ONE. The publication coincided with a recent CDC investigation of Marburg infection among miners in Uganda.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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