Emerging and reemerging of filoviruses

Arch Virol Suppl. 1996;11:77-100. doi: 10.1007/978-3-7091-7482-1_9.


Filoviruses are causative agents of a hemorrhagic fever in man with mortalities ranging from 22 to 88%. They are enveloped, nonsegmented negative-stranded RNA viruses and are separated into two types, Marburg and Ebola, which can be serologically, biochemically and genetically distinguished. In general, there is little genetic variability among viruses belonging to the Marburg type. The Ebola type, however, is subdivided into at least three distinct subtypes. Marburg virus was first isolated during an outbreak in Europe in 1967. Ebola virus emerged in 1976 as the causative agent of two simultaneous outbreaks in southern Sudan and northern Zaire. The reemergence of Ebola, subtype Zaire, in Kikwit 1995 caused a worldwide sensation, since it struck after a sensibilization on the danger of Ebola virus disease. Person-to-person transmission by intimate contact is the main route of infection, but transmission by droplets and small aerosols among infected individuals is discussed. The natural reservoir for filoviruses remains a mystery. Filoviruses are prime examples for emerging pathogens. Factors that may be involved in emergence are international commerce and travel, limited experience in diagnosis and case management, import of nonhuman primates, and the potential of filoviruses for rapid evolution.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Disease Reservoirs
  • Ebolavirus / genetics
  • Ebolavirus / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Filoviridae / pathogenicity
  • Filoviridae Infections / epidemiology*
  • Filoviridae Infections / transmission*
  • Filoviridae Infections / veterinary
  • Genome, Viral
  • Haplorhini
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / transmission
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marburg Virus Disease / epidemiology
  • Marburg Virus Disease / transmission
  • Marburgvirus / genetics
  • Marburgvirus / ultrastructure
  • Prevalence
  • Primate Diseases
  • Travel*


  • Antibodies, Viral