Bunyamwera Virus: Profile and Information

Bunyamwera Virus

The bunyamwera virus is a single stranded RNA virus that is named for Bunyamwera, a town in west Uganda, where the Riboviral specie of was isolated in 1943.

The Bunyaviridae is scientifically known as the Bunyamwera orthobunyavirus (BUNV), it is a family of arthropod borne, spherical eveloped RNA viruses responsible for a number of febrile diseases in humans and other vertebrates.

The virus has either a rodent host or an arthropod vector and a vertebrate host.

Virus Classification of Bunyamwera Virus

  • (unranked): Virus
  • Realm: Ribovira
  • Kingdom: Orthornavirae
  • Phylum: Negarnaviricota
  • Class: Ellioviricetes
  • Order: Bunyavirales
  • Family: Peribunyaviridee
  • Genus: Orthobunyavirus
  • Species: Bunyamwera orthobunyavirus

First discovered in Uganda, the bunyamwera virus was mostly isolated to Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa and throughout most of the sub-Saharan Africa regions.

Also the antibodies have widely been detected in people with high prevalence (up to 82%) in these same regions, in domestic animals, other primates, rodents and birds.

As part of the Yellow fever surveillance effort in Africa in 1943, the virus was first isolated from several Aedes species of mosquitoes (commonly known as the Yellow fever mosquitoes) in the Semliki forest, Uganda, as this mosquito is labeled as the primary vector of this virus.

Though the condition where the virus enters the bloodstream and access the rest of the body capable of supporting the mosquito transmiswsion have been recorded in rodents, bats and non-human primates, the full history of the virus is still unclear and unresolved to science.   

This virus have been isolated and discovered to be causes and co-causes of several infections and illnesses in sub-Saharan regions.

Some of these isolated strands include the most common Ngari virus, Batai virus, Playas virus, Potosi virus, Tensaw virus and so on.

The Ngari virus for instance, has been linked with large outbreaks of viral haemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) – an illness characterized by fever and severe bleeding disorder- in places like Kenya and Somalia.

Bunyamwera Fever

In humans, the Bunyamwera virus causes an infection called the bunyamwera fever. This fever is usually associated with pediatric (children) and senior citizen infections as their immune systems tend to be weaker than average adults.

The virus is mosquito borne and it is associated with mild symptoms such as, fever, joint pain and rash in many mammals and also in humans.

The Bunyamwera may cause a mild flu like illness in humans, is associated with a more disease in ruminant animals where it manifest itself by causing abortions, premature births and genetic abnormally.

Rift Valley Fever Virus, a close relative to the bunyamwera virus causes hemorrhagic hepatitis, encephalitis, renal failure or blindness.

The bunyamwera fever caused by BUNV is maintained in nature by blood feeding mosquitoes and susceptible vertebrate hosts.

Experimental studies showed the Aedes mosquitoes are competent to transmit BUNV and evidence from these studies suggests the Aedes mosquitoes might be the primary mosquito vector and outbreaks of Human febrile illnesses like in Sudan 1988 and Somalia-Kenya in 1997 to 1998 coincides with episodes of unusual heavy rains and extensive flooding in areas that are normally arid.

This seasonal pattern resembles that of the Rift Valley Fever Virus (RVFV), the primary vector of which is the Aedes mosquitoes.

Control of the multiplication and spread of Bunyamwera virus can be achieved by controlling the vector arthropods and vaccination of Humans for bunyamwera fever and of Hantavirus hemorrhagic fever with renal syndromes and of sheep and cattle for Rift Valley Fever.

Also Control of the rodent host is of vital importance for hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. Use of proper protective clothing, repellents, bed nets and house screens, are effective against the vectors, rodenticides are further used in outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome.

Pesticides also are used on community/area-wide basis as well as breeding sites for arthropods like stagnant water bodies and open sewages, proper disposal of materials that openly collect rain water are also very effective ways of controlling the spread of the viruses.   

Medical personnel who tend to infectious patients should protect themselves by wearing overalls and marks to prevent aerosol infection and critical precautions should be followed in handling needles, surgical instruments and every material associated with these patients to prevent accidental transmission by blood.


Bunyamwera Virus is mostly prominent in Africa and evidence suggests that the virus is closely related to some disturbing outbreaks in the region over the last decades, for instance, the Ebola viral outbreak.

Since it origin, vector and hosts are known, adequate preventive measures should individually be put in place to combat and prevent any further outbreaks.

Children should mostly be protected against mosquitoes bite and any rodent infestation should be treated as emergencies.


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