The Marburg virus starts out like a harmless flu, with fever, headache and muscle aches, but within a few days, those infected develop excessive bleeding, rashes, extreme lethargy, vomiting blood and diarrhea.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus kills about half of the people it infects, killing 88 percent of those infected in one outbreak. 

Some scientists have said that the destruction of natural habitats as people come into closer contact with animals carrying the virus could make Marburg virus outbreaks more common. 

In 1967, a group of laboratory workers in Germany and Serbia began to show strange, flu-like symptoms. In some, the disease caused hemorrhagic fever, which led to excessive bleeding and bruising all over their bodies. The infection then spread to the lab workers' family members. 31 people tested positive for the infection and 7 people died.

In these laboratories, during research on Ugandan green monkeys and their tissues, researchers soon discovered that green monkeys imported from Africa were infected with a virus spread by bats. This was the first recorded outbreak of the virus in humans and was named after Marburg, one of the towns where the infections occurred. 

The virus can spread from bats to primates, including humans. It can also be carried by pigs. The infection can spread from person to person through direct contact or through materials such as bedding and clothing contaminated with bodily fluids. The blood and semen of a person infected with Marburg virus can remain infectious for months, even after the person has recovered from the disease. 

In 2023, there were two outbreaks in Africa, in Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania. Equatorial Guinea reported 16 confirmed cases and 12 deaths. In Tanzania, eight confirmed cases and five deaths were recorded. There have also been outbreaks in Ghana, Guinea and Uganda in the last decade.

Some scientists have warned that the frequency of Marburg outbreaks has increased in recent years. Experts argue that this may be due to human intervention in previously untouched habitats, and that infected animals are likely to come into contact with humans and spread the virus to them. 

Although there is no vaccine or specific treatment for the Marburg virus, it is possible to recover from the infection. Michelle Barnes, an American, began to feel strange on a flight back to the United States after she and her husband returned from a trip to Uganda on Christmas 2007. She was hospitalized with symptoms. After 10 days of care and treatment, her symptoms began to subside, but she continued to have symptoms for months.