Like smallpox and anthrax, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers hemorrhagic fever viruses category A biological weapons agents, because they have the potential to cause widespread illness and death, and would require special public health preparedness measures to contain an outbreak. The Working Groups report focuses on eight viruses: Ebola, Marburg, Lassa fever, New World Arenavirus, Rift Valley Fever, yellow fever, Ornsk hemorrhagic fever, and Kyasanur Forest Disease. Ebola and Marburg, which belong to the Filoviridae family of viruses, can be spread from person to person and are among the most deadly hemorrhagic fever illnesses. Ebola kills 50 to 90 percent of those infected, while Marburg is fatal 23 to 70 percent of the time.
An outbreak of Ebola and Marburg would have a significant impact on our society, because they carry significant morbidity and mortality, and other than supportive medical care, there are no specific treatments, explains lead author Luciana Borio, MD, fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies and the Critical Care Medicine Department of the National Institutes of Health. It is not possible to predict whether any of the hemorrhagic fever viruses are likely to be used as a bioweapon. However, we know that it is not impossible to weaponize these viruses and we, in medicine and public health, are obli
Contact: Tim Parsons
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health