Olivia Harvey
November 08, 2017 4:10 pm
Getty Images / FLORENCE PANOUSSIAN / AFP

As of November 3rd, the Marburg virus has claimed three lives in the Kween District of Eastern Uganda. Although health workers are doing great work containing and tracking the outbreak, it’s important to know what the symptoms of the Marburg virus look like.

There are only three confirmed cases in this most recent Marburg outbreak, although health workers are paying close attention to Kenya after one of the infected traveled there before her death.

Marburg and Ebola share a viral family, and therefore show similar symptoms in those infected. Both “are among the most virulent pathogens known to infect humans,” the World Health Organization (WHO) states on their site. And although rare, the Marburg virus has a high fatality rate and ability to become an epidemic if left unconstrained.

Symptoms appear immediately after the virus enters the bloodstream, which can happen anywhere from two to 21 days after contact is made with an infected being. The symptoms can come on strong, and if the case progresses at a fast rate, fatality can be expected after only eight or nine days following symptom onset, WHO reports.

If you’ve traveled to Uganda or Kenya recently and are experiencing the below symptoms, you must take action immediately, before you are in grave danger.

WARNING: Some descriptions and photos are graphic.

1Fever, headache, and muscle pains

When the Marburg disease enters the bloodstream, the patient will immediately experience a high fever and severe headache. They’ll also begin to feel illness coming on and will exhibit general discomfort.

2Diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting

Around the third day, the disease will cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramping. The patient will begin to feel nauseous and may proceed to vomit. The diarrhea can persist for about a week. Some patients in the original 1967 Marburg outbreak also broke out in rashes during this period.

3Change in facial appearance

WHO reports that around the same time diarrhea occurs, the infected patient will begin to appear “ghost-like.” Their eyes will sink in and their face will appear more gaunt than usual. The patient will also appear expressionless and exhibit extreme lethargy.

4“Hemorrhagic manifestations”

Around the fifth to seventh day of the disease, the infected will begin to show signs of hemorrhagic manifestations, such as large welts on the arms and legs. In fatal cases, patients will begin bleeding from the gums, nose, and other orifices, and blood will appear in stool and vomit.

The high fever will also still be present and the infected will often appear confused, agitated, or become aggressive due to the nervous system being affected. Swelling of the testicles may also occur around day 15.

5Death

In fatal Marburg cases, death usually occurs around day eight or nine after symptom onset, WHO states. Severe blood loss from hemorrhaging will leave the patient in shock and will result in death.

There’s little chance that the Marburg virus will appear in America in the near future. But even so, staying aware and educated on potentially deadly viruses is useful for any citizen of the world. Stay safe out there.

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