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Defending against a Deadly Foe: Vaccine forestalls fearsome virus

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12:32pm, May 3, 2006

A single injection of an experimental vaccine prevents infection by the lethal Marburg virus in monkeys, a study finds. The test is the first to show that a vaccine given after exposure to the virus can stop it. People infected with Marburg, a cousin of the Ebola virus, develop high fever, nausea, and internal bleeding and often die.

Scientists had previously demonstrated that the vaccine could avert Marburg virus when administered a month before exposure (SN: 7/16/05, p. 45: Available to subscribers at Vaccines against Marburg and Ebola viruses advance). The new research comes closer to simulating real-world conditions, in which exposure to Marburg virus arises unpredictably in natural outbreaks or in laboratory accidents.

The virus is named for Marburg, Germany, where it was first identified in 1967 after infected monkeys shipped there from Uganda spread the virus to people. Since then, sporadic outbreaks have occurred in Africa.

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