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March 31, 2015
Transmission of Marburg virus disease paper

A new paper, Mapping the zoonotic niche of Marburg virus disease in Africa by Pigott et al has been published in Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Marburg virus disease (MVD) describes a viral haemorrhagic fever responsible for a number of outbreaks across eastern and southern Africa. It is a zoonotic disease, with the Egyptian rousette (Rousettus aegyptiacus) identified as a reservoir host. Infection is suspected to result from contact between this reservoir and human populations, with occasional secondary human-to-human transmission.

This paper found that areas suitable for zoonotic transmission of MVD are predicted in 27 countries inhabited by 105 million people. Regions are suggested for exploratory surveys to better characterise the geographical distribution of the disease, as well as for directing efforts to communicate the risk of practices enhancing zoonotic contact.

These maps can inform future contingency and preparedness strategies for MVD control, especially where secondary transmission is a risk. Coupling this risk map with patient travel histories could be used to guide the differential diagnosis of highly transmissible pathogens, enabling more rapid response to outbreaks of haemorrhagic fever.