We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Filovirus?

By Emma Lloyd
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A filovirus is a virus which is part of the family known as filoviridae. These viruses are so named because of their microscopic appearance: they are long and thin, resembling fibrous threads. Filoviruses cause a type of disease called a hemorrhagic fever, characterized by very high fever, excessive bleeding, and lack of blood coagulation. Often, infection with a filovirus is fatal, with mortality rates ranging between 50% and 90%.

There are two types of filoviruses, called Marburgvirus and Ebolavirus. In the Marburgvirus genus there is just one species, known as Lake Victoria marburgvirus. Within the Ebolavirus genus there are three species, called Ivory Coast ebolavirus, Reston ebolavirus, and Sudan ebolavirus. Each filovirus species is named for the region in which it was first discovered.

The first species of filoviridae to be discovered was Marburg, in a virology laboratory in Marburg, Germany in 1967. In this outbreak 31 people were infected with the virus and seven people died. The disease was contracted the virus through contact with infected monkeys. While there have been several small outbreaks of Marburgvirus in several African countries, this remains the only outbreak which has occurred on a continent other than Africa. The first reported outbreak of an Ebola species was in 1976, in Sudan and Zaire. A further outbreak occurred in Reston, Washington D.C. in 1989. A third Ebola outbreak occurred in the Philippines in 2009; this was again of the Reston variety.

Filoviruses are zoonotic viruses, meaning the natural hosts of these viruses are animals, but infection can be transmitted to humans. Although some species of filovirus have been found to infect monkeys and swine, the natural host of these viruses is not known. Some species of bat have been found which are naturally infected with Ebolavirus in the wild, without displaying disease symptoms. On the basis of this evidence it is currently suspected that bats are the natural hosts of filoviruses.

Filoviruses can be spread through contact with infected bodily fluids, including blood, saliva, vomit, and excrement. This is generally how the virus is spread from person to person during an outbreak. Most outbreaks start when the virus is transmitted from an animal to a human; however it is not known how this transmission occurs.

Initial symptoms of filovirus infection include severe headache, aching muscles, fatigue, sore throat, dizziness, nausea, and joint or muscle pain. These symptoms appear between two days and three weeks after first contact with the virus. As the infection progresses, more serious symptoms begin to develop, such as blood in vomit and feces, rash and hemorrhage in the skin, and internal bleeding. Treatment for hemorrhagic fever is supportive rather than curative, as there is no reliable cure for infection. Instead, treatment aims to reduce the impact of the infection by replacing lost blood and fluids, using medication to promote blood clotting, and preventing complications.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Robottom — On Oct 20, 2014

So, if bats are the natural hosts of filoviruses like Ebola, if you come in contact with their droppings, can you get Ebola?

Also, can you get the virus if you eat food that has been prepared by a person who is infected with the virus? I eat out a lot because of my job, and worry about getting Ebola through an infected person at a restaurant.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.