Monday, February 9, 2009
Marburg In The US
While looking for my weekly dose of terror this week, I stumbled upon an article about the first confirmed case of the deadly Marburg virus in the US.
Marburg is a hemorrhagic fever that is not unlike Ebola. It is indigenous to Africa, but last I checked no one was certain of where exactly the disease came from. It had been traced back to caves in Africa, which led some to suspect that bats living in these caves are the natural carriers of Marburg.
Apparently this guy went spelunking in a cave in Uganda, looking for pythons, and instead found himself a case of Marburg. The incubation period is about 5-10 days, so he made it all the way back to Denver before he showed symptoms. Tests confirmed that he did indeed have Marburg, and luckily he managed to survive (which is quite a feat considering this disease has a mortality rate over 80%). The CDC was a bit concerned about the health of hospital workers who helped the man, but so far none of them have exhibited symptoms of Marburg. Read the article here.
On a lighter note, I wanted to recommend a few of my very favorite books on the subject or terrifying hemorrhagic fevers. Anyone interested in this macabre subject should definitely check out the author Richard Preston. He writes non-fiction science books that read like exciting action novels. It is hard to come by non-fiction science that reads this well. The Hot Zone is related to Ebola and Marburg, and is full of fascinating stories about the these diseases, and their unfriendly relationships with unlucky humans (and monekys). I love this book! Also look for The Demon in the Freezer and Panic in Level 4, both are also non-fiction books about infectious disease and science. Panic in Level 4 has a few vignettes that touch a lot on disease ecology, so look for it!