Marburgviruses: An Update

Caterina M. Miraglia, DC, MLS(ASCP)

Disclosures

Lab Med. 2019;50(1):16-28. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

Ebolaviruses have gained much attention recently due to the outbreak from 2014 through 2016. The related marburgviruses also have been responsible for large outbreaks with high case fatality rates. The purpose of this article is to provide the clinical laboratory scientist with a review of the most current developments in marburgvirus research. The PubMed database was reviewed using the keywords "Marburg virus," "Ravn virus," and "marburgviruses," with publication dates from January 1, 2015 through June 20, 2017. The search yielded 345 articles. In total, 52 articles met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Advances have been made in the areas of ecology and host reservoir studies, seroprevalence studies, pathology and pathogenesis studies, laboratory assay development, and treatment and vaccine development. Marburgviruses are highly lethal viruses that pose a significant threat to the human population. Although numerous advances have been made, there are still large gaps in knowledge, and it is imperative that scientists gain more information to fully understand virus/host interactions. An approved vaccine and treatment remain elusive.

Introduction

The Ebola virus (EBOV) outbreak in West Africa from 2014 through 2016 drew worldwide attention. This devastating outbreak resulted in more than 11,000 deaths and was the largest recorded filovirus outbreak in history, with more than 28,000 individuals infected.[1] Much attention was paid to this virus inside and outside the scientific community; since that outbreak, there has been a more concentrated effort within the scientific community to develop specific treatments and vaccines. However, focus should not be taken away from a close relative of the ebolaviruses, namely, the marburgviruses, which also have been responsible for large outbreaks with high case fatality rates.[2]

This review focuses on the most recent developments regarding marburgviruses, in the areas of ecology and host reservoir studies, involving transmission within the host reservoir population, seroprevalence studies, pathology and pathogenesis studies, laboratory assay development, and treatment and vaccine development. Also, it will cover background information, including epidemiology, viral characteristics, and currently used methods of laboratory diagnosis.

The PubMed database was reviewed using keywords "Marburg virus," "Ravn virus," and "marburgviruses," with publication dates from January 1, 2015 through June 20, 2017. The search yielded 345 articles. In total, 52 articles met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Inclusion criteria included being published in peer reviewed scientific journals and being relevant to viral transmission within the host reservoir population, epidemiology, pathology, clinical laboratory diagnostics, and treatment and vaccines. Exclusion criteria included being review articles or systematic or meta-analyses; having content regarding computer modeling, phylogeny, or viral structure studies; being unrelated to or not focused on marburgviruses, and not being available in the English language.

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