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Jan H. ter Meulen

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date: 03 March 2021

Filoviruses are large RNA viruses, of which Ebola virus and Marburg virus cause the most severe forms of viral haemorrhagic fever and have been best-studied because of fear of their misuse as bioterrorism agents. These are zoonotic viruses with reservoirs, most likely fruit-eating bats, in the rainforests of tropical Africa, where they cause sporadic infections and outbreaks among great apes and humans. The primary mode of transmission of Ebola virus to humans often involves contact of hunters with dead animals that serve as amplifying hosts, especially gorillas, chimpanzees, and forest antelopes, whose meat is consumed as ‘bush meat’. Contact with bats has been implicated for both Marburg and Ebola virus. However, the viruses are highly infectious and are transmitted from the index case and subsequently from person to person by all body fluids, including sweat, respiratory droplets, and semen. The viruses can persist in convalescent patients for many months.

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