Marburg / Ebola
Marburg and Ebola are two exotic viruses that gurantee high fatality rates ( 25% for Marburg and up to 90% for Ebola ), produce grotesque symtoms, lurk in darkest Africa under murky circumstances ----- in short, posses all the ingredients for a blockbuster. They have already triggered far more melodrama than disease, as a result of two famous when imported laboratory monkeys carried the microbes into rich white man's world.
One day in the summer of 1967, three employees at a vaccine factory in Marburg, Germany, complained of flu; by the next day, their condition deteriorated into what became weeks of acute viral blood poisoning, bizarre rashes, severe diarrhea, bloody vomiting and hemorrages from every orrifice. Also, their skin came off. In Germany and Yugoslavia, the number of patients among pharmaceutial workers, the doctors who treated them, technicians and household contacts climbed past thirty. Seven died by the end of the year, others suffered severe liver damage, impotence and psychosis. Investigators discovered that all the cases were linked by exposure to a shipment of African green monkeys from Uganda, half of which had died in the route. They found a large, new rod-shaped virus in the monkey's tissue that resembled a woolly bear caterpillar, one that could roll up tightly for protection just like that cuddly little creature. No one has ever figured exactly where the virus comes from, how humans catch it or much of anyhting else that you would like to know about such a monster. Methyl alcohol knocks it out.
In the summer of 1976, panic swept remote villages in Zaire and Sudan in the wake of sickness and death on a form similiar to Marburg cases, only worse. Local physicians at first suspected yellow fever or typhoid, then, Lassa fever but soon, they called for outside help. Investigators discovered a virus shaped like question mark, surely one of nature's all-time worst jokes. Named Ebola after a river near the epidemic's starting point, the virus turned out to be closely related to the Marburg germ and just as mysterious. Of 358 cases in Zaire, 325 died. In Sudan, the virus was apparently somewhat weaker, kiling 151 out of 284 victims.
In 1989, the Marburg plot recurred in the tony Washington suburb of Reston, Virginia, when monkeys imported from the Phillipines started dropping like flies at an animal quarantine facility. A virus similiar to Ebola was soon isolated, causing feverish prayers among lab workers that the nation's capitol would be spared until it became evident that this new strain was not a people killer: several people were infected by the " Reston " virus but none shown any symtoms. The scary episode further besmirched the reputation of imported monkeys and made a small fortune for at least one magazine writer.
In addition to underlining the necessity for strict international controls on animal trafficking and the potential for vicious diseases to escape from remote areas although fast modern transportation , the Marburg and Ebola outbreaks demonstrated one of the basic tenets of infectious disease : if a virus is exceedingly deadly, it will roar through a population quickly rather than cause massive, prolonged epidemics. Virus need fresh, healthy hosts, not corpse.