Many people probably never heard the term “Marburg Virus” before. Still, it is one of the deadliest viruses humans have ever found, with an average fatality rate of 50%, ranging between 23% to 90%, and there’s still no approved treatment to cure this virus. So what is Marburg Virus, and what does it do to the immune system that causes us to be in danger? To understand all of these, we must first dive into the structure of the Marburg Virus and what “strategies” they use to deceive our immune system and enter our cells.
According to CDC, Marburg is a virus that originated in 1967 in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany, and in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). It is a virus that attacks your immune system to cause severe fever, Malaise, and diarrhea. In addition to those symptoms, people who get the virus can also suffer severe weight loss, vomit, and even organ failure. The virus was not very active for the past 20 years, but recently, in August 2021, a 46-year-old man from Temessadou M’Boké, a village in Guéckédou prefecture in Guinea, died after hemorrhaging from several natural orifices.
To understand this virus, we must first look at its structure. Marburg Virus(MVD) is an RNA virus that can enter our cells by endocytosis, specifically receptor-mediated endocytosis. Since Marburg Virus is a special type of virus, it has its own attachment proteins; it uses the process of Receptor-Mediated Endocytosis because it triggers a specific receptor in a coated pit. After the virus triggers the receptor on our cell, it gets attached to our cell surface and clusters the receptors. Because Marburg Virus also contains its own protein, our immune system falsely identifies it as something good for our body, which allows them to attach to our membrane and send the virus into our cells. Once it’s in, the virus uses its RNA to provide information to replicate and infect cells using viral proteins. Once a cell is infected by the virus, the virus and its copy use the same process to infect other cells in our body until the majority of our cells are infected. (SARS-CoV-2 uses the same process as Marburg Virus since they both are RNA viruses.)
Now that we know the structure of the virus and how it enters our body, we need to figure out why it is so deadly. We certainly have many RNA viruses that exist in our daily lives, but most of them are not fatal. One of the differences between Marburg and other viruses is that it can cause severe hemorrhagic fever, similar to the symptoms of Ebola. It is a condition that affects many body organ systems, damages the overall cardiovascular system, and reduces the body’s ability to function. Furthermore, the fever will reduce the level of blood-clotting cells in our body, leading to severe internal bleeding and death as the excess amount of blood pressures your organs and tissues.