Ebola and Marburg

What are Ebola and Marburg?

Ebola and Marburg are diseases caused by viruses. Both are viral hemorrhagic fevers, which means they can damage organs and blood vessels, and may cause death. You can get infected with the Ebola or Marburg virus if you touch or have contact with:

  • infected animals (including bats and primates) or their body fluids
  • body fluids (blood, urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) from an infected person or person who has died from Ebola or Marburg
  • objects (including clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment) contaminated with the body fluids of an infected person

Ebola and Marburg disease symptoms usually start 5 to 10 days after a person is infected and may include sudden fever, chills, headache, body aches, and a rash on the chest, back, and stomach. As the person gets sicker, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, chest pain, a sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Internal bleeding, critically low blood pressure (shock), damage to multiple organs and organ systems (liver, pancreas, kidneys, brain), and death are among the most serious outcomes.

Who is at risk?

Ebola and Marburg are found in sub-Saharan Africa.

Ebola has been reported in Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, South Sudan, Uganda, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.

Marburg has been reported in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Travelers who work closely with or visit areas with monkeys, chimpanzees, and gorillas (nonhuman primates) or bats in tropical Africa may be more likely to get infected. For example, two tourists visiting Uganda in 2008 were likely infected with Marburg virus after visiting a cave known for its large bat population. People who care for Ebola or Marburg patients may also be more likely to get infected.

For most travelers, the chances of getting infected with Ebola or Marburg viruses are low.

What can travelers do to prevent Ebola and Marburg?

 

Travelers can protect themselves from infection by taking the following steps.

  • Avoid animals when traveling
    • Don't touch live or dead animals.
    • Avoid markets or farms with animals.
    • Don't eat or handle meat from wild animals.
    • If you are traveling to work with animals, wear appropriate protective gear. 
  • Wash your hands
    • Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
    • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
    • Do not kiss, hug or share eating utensils or cups.
    • Do not touch the bedding or clothing of a sick person.
  • Avoid being near sick people, dead bodies, blood, or body fluids
    • Don't touch items that may have a sick person's blood or body fluids on them. 

stethoscope

If you traveled and feel sick, particularly if you have a fever, talk to a healthcare provider and tell them about your travel. Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.

If you need medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care Abroad.

Traveler Information

Clinician Information