Marburg and Ebola viruses as aerosol threats

Biosecur Bioterror. 2004;2(3):186-91. doi: 10.1089/bsp.2004.2.186.


Ebola and Marburg viruses are the sole members of the genus Filovirus in the family Filoviridae. There has been considerable media attention and fear generated by outbreaks of filoviruses because they can cause a severe viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) syndrome that has a rapid onset and high mortality. Although they are not naturally transmitted by aerosol, they are highly infectious as respirable particles under laboratory conditions. For these and other reasons, filoviruses are classified as category A biological weapons. However, there is very little data from animal studies with aerosolized filoviruses. Animal models of filovirus exposure are not well characterized, and there are discrepancies between these models and what has been observed in human outbreaks. Building on published results from aerosol studies, as well as a review of the history, epidemiology, and disease course of naturally occurring outbreaks, we offer an aerobiologist's perspective on the threat posed by aerosolized filoviruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols*
  • Animals
  • Biological Warfare*
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Ebolavirus*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Marburgvirus*


  • Aerosols