How certain animals like bats have become a perfect reservoir for many fungi and viruses which cause...
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How certain animals like bats have become a perfect reservoir for many fungi and viruses which cause fatal infectious diseases in humans?Marburg virus, which causes Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever, is one of those many microorganisms that naturally lives with African Fruit bats.How can mutant cells which lack NPC1 protein can be used for prevention? Why is the fatality rate of MHF so high and no effective vaccine have not been found for this disease yet?


Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever is a highly fatal disease and it is less known than Ebola. Together, Ebola and Marburg make up the Filoviridae family. MHF was chosen because of its mysteriously high fatal rate and inability of scientists to find a vaccine to cure the patients.


Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever is a highly fatal infectious disease and no vaccine has been found to be effective in curing, or preventing, this disease. Even though the fatal rate falls between 23-100%, but balancing the patient's fluids and electrolytes, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure, replacing lost blood and clotting factors and treating them for any complicating infections can increase the patient's life expectancy.


The first outbreak of this disease was caused by interaction with African green monkey tissues in a lab. Marburg virus was first recognized in 1967 after an outbreak happened in a lab in Marburg Germany.


Even though more than 45 years have passed from the initial outbreak, but MHF is not well known because of having a high rate of mutation and fatality rate. MHF, which is caused by a ssRNA virus, is well known to be passed from African Fruit bats, but the mutation that has made this virus to become able to infect humans, and the bats' defense mechanism against this highly infective disease is not discovered yet.

Patient with Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever. Bleeding in vast areas of the body is one of the major symptoms.

MHF, a Zoonotic Disease

MFH is a zoonotic disease, meaning that the agent, which is a virus, is transferred from an animal to the humans and causes infection. The reservoir for this virus was found to be the African fruit bats. This type of bath are known to carry many viral and fungus diseases and they can be in close contact with other animals including primates and humans.

MHF Epidemic after its outbreak in 1967

Infection Mechanism

Glycoprotein on the virus's membrane binds to NCP-1 protein on the endosomal membrane of the host cell and enters it. Marburg virus has a single stranded RNA which is replicated inside the host cell via the viral polymerase complex. New viruses are formed and they spread throughout the body.

Questions to Go Further

  • What is the defense mechanism of bats that allows them to carry Marburg virus without showing any symptom?

  • Why there is no approved treatment for MHF?

  • How could studying the ecology and identity of reservoirs of Marburg virus help identify the evolution pathway of MHF?

  • Will it be effective to produce mutant cells that do not produce NCP1 proteins and can prevent MHF infection?


High fever, extensive bleeding, organ failure, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, sore throat, abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, shock, coma, and eventually death are the symptoms of this disease.

African Fruit bat, Marburg virus's reservoir