Mapping the zoonotic niche of Marburg virus disease in Africa

Published March 27, 2015, in Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (opens in a new window)


Marburg virus disease (MVD) describes a viral haemorrhagic fever responsible for a number of outbreaks across eastern and southern Africa. It is a zoonotic disease, with the Egyptian rousette (Rousettus aegyptiacus) identified as a reservoir host. Infection is suspected to result from contact between this reservoir and human populations, with occasional secondary human-to-human transmission.


Index cases of previous human outbreaks were identified and reports of infection in animals recorded. These data were modeled within a species distribution modeling framework in order to generate a probabilistic surface of zoonotic transmission potential of MVD across sub-Saharan Africa.


Areas suitable for zoonotic transmission of MVD are predicted in 27 countries inhabited by 105 million people. Regions are suggested for exploratory surveys to better characterize the geographical distribution of the disease, as well as for directing efforts to communicate the risk of practices enhancing zoonotic contact.


These maps can inform future contingency and preparedness strategies for MVD control, especially where secondary transmission is a risk. Coupling this risk map with patient travel histories could be used to guide the differential diagnosis of highly transmissible pathogens, enabling more rapid response to outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever.

Read full article (opens in a new window)


Pigott DM, Golding N, Mylne A, Huang Z, Weiss DJ, Brady OJ, Kraemer MU, Hay SI. Mapping the zoonotic niche of Marburg virus disease in Africa. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene. 2015 Jun; 109(6):336–378. doi: 10.1093/trstmh/trv024.


Scientific Publication

The overlapping burden of the three leading causes of disability and death in sub-Saharan African children

Scientific Publication

Mapping development and health effects of cooking with solid fuels in low-income and middle-income countries, 2000–18: a geospatial modelling study