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Health What is the Marburg virus? WHO declares outbreak of the disease after two die in Ghana

21:01  27 july  2022
21:01  27 july  2022 Source:   nationalpost.com

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Two people are dead after testing positive for the Marburg virus disease in Ghana in June — and now the World Health Organization (WHO) is declaring the West African country’s first-ever outbreak.

Rousettus aegyptiacus or Egyptian fruit bats. Prolonged exposure to mines or caves where they live can result in human infection of the deadly Marburg virus disease. © Provided by National Post Rousettus aegyptiacus or Egyptian fruit bats. Prolonged exposure to mines or caves where they live can result in human infection of the deadly Marburg virus disease.

“Marburg is a highly infectious viral haemorrhagic fever in the same family as the more well-known Ebola virus disease,” says the WHO.

For those who are diagnosed with the disease, up to 88 per cent may die. The incubation period is two to 21 days, compared to two to 14 days with COVID-19, for example. It can spread from person to person by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of someone who has been infected. It can also spread through infected materials, like clothing.

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Its symptoms include high fever and severe headaches, while muscle aches and pains are also common. On the third day of infection, severe diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting may start. Patients can appear “ghost-like” and will be extremely lethargic, says the WHO. In fatal cases, the patient usually has bleeding from several areas, including the nose and gums.

There is currently no cure for the Marburg virus, however, treatment can be provided for its symptoms.

In late June, two unrelated people — a 26-year-old man and a 51-year-old man in Ghana — died in hospital after checking themselves in, suffering from diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting. More than 90 people who came into contact with them are being monitored.

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The discovery of the disease stems from two outbreaks in 1967 that occurred around the same time: one in Germany, in Marburg and Frankfurt, and the other in Belgrade, Serbia. The outbreaks can be traced to a laboratory that was working with African green monkeys imported from Uganda.

“In 2008, two independent cases were reported in travellers who visited a cave inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies in Uganda,” says the WHO, adding that prolonged exposure to mines or caves where those colonies live can result in human infection.

Cases and outbreaks of the Marburg virus have been reported in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, with links to Zimbabwe.

 Doctor Mark Katz, a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO), taking an oral sample from patient Feliciana suspected of having Marburg haemorrhagic fever in Kinguangua, near Uige. Feliciana’s grandmother, sister and ex-husband died of Marburg haemorrhagic fever. The young woman tested negative after being transported to the Uige Provincial Hospital for observation. © CHRISTOPHER BLACK/AFP/Getty Images Doctor Mark Katz, a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO), taking an oral sample from patient Feliciana suspected of having Marburg haemorrhagic fever in Kinguangua, near Uige. Feliciana’s grandmother, sister and ex-husband died of Marburg haemorrhagic fever. The young woman tested negative after being transported to the Uige Provincial Hospital for observation.

An outbreak was declared in Guinea in 2021, and lasted for five weeks, after a single case of the virus.

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Since 1967, out of the 590 people who had the disease, 478 of them died, according to the WHO’s data on major outbreaks, not including the most recent deaths in June.

As for the disease spreading further, WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said the response has been swift.

“WHO is on the ground supporting health authorities and now that the outbreak is declared, we are marshalling more resources for the response,” she said in a statement.

To avoid contracting the virus, the Ghana Health Service’s Disease Surveillance Department recommends not eating bush meat, washing hands frequently with soap and water, and not handling dead bodies of people who may have had the Marburg virus.

COVID-19 outbreak declared at Chatham hospital .
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This is interesting!