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Filoviruses are believed to be zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted to humans by animals. The natural reservoirs, or animal hosts, of Ebola and Marburg viruses are not known. The viruses can replicate, or reproduce, in certain types of bats native to the areas where the viruses are found, so some researchers think that these bats could be the natural reservoirs.

Once the virus has been transmitted to a human, it can then be spread through person-to-person contact. People can be exposed to Ebola and Marburg viruses from direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person.

Nosocomial transmission, or the spread of disease within a healthcare setting, also occurs, making the use of protective clothing and the disposal of needles and syringes crucial to preventing the spread of infection.

Last Updated May 14, 2010

Last Reviewed May 14, 2010