Marburg virus: first two confirmed cases in Ghana
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Marburg virus: first two confirmed cases in Ghana

A WHO doctor takes an oral sample from a patient suspected of having Marburg hemorrhagic fever, in Kingwanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo, May 6, 2005. Christopher Black/WHO/AFP

This is the first time that this hemorrhagic fever, as deadly as Ebola, has been recorded in the country. 98 contacts have been placed in quarantine.

On Sunday, July 17, health authorities announced that two cases of Marburg virus, a fatal hemorrhagic fever like Ebola, were recorded in Ghana at the beginning of July.

The African branch of the World Health Organization stated that the two unrelated patients had various symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting. “This is the first time Ghana has confirmed [la présence] Marburg virusDr. Patrick Kuma Aboage, Director General of Ghana Health Services, said in a statement.

Both patients died

Blood samples were taken from patients at Ashanti District Hospital (south) on July 8. The samples were then sent to the Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IDP) for confirmation. “Additional tests at the IDP confirmed the resultsDr. Patrick Kuma Aboage said. If the patients’ symptoms did not worry the doctors at first, because they resembled acute gastroenteritis, a state of emergency was declared upon the death of the first patient, followed 48 hours later by the second.

No further cases have been detected so far, but 98 people identified as contact cases have been placed in quarantine. “Health authorities responded quickly, and began preparing for a possible outbreak. This is a good thing because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg could easily spiral out of control.Dr Machidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said.

highly contagious virus

Marburg virus disease is difficult to identify because its symptoms are similar to those of other tropical diseases, such as Ebola or malaria. It usually begins suddenly with a high fever, severe headache, and possible malaise. There may also be body aches, diarrhea and blood in the stool.

The World Health Organization has expressed concern about this highly contagious virus that is transmitted to humans by fruit bats, and is transmitted to humans by direct contact through body fluids such as blood, semen or urine, or through infected surfaces and materials.

Case fatality rates range from 24% to 88% during these outbreaks, depending on the strain of the virus and the management of the case, according to the World Health Organization. Although there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved yet to treat the virus, oral or intravenous rehydration and treating certain symptoms improve survival rates.

Virus already present in Africa

This is the second time that this disease has hit the African continent. On September 16, 2021, the World Health Organization declared the end of the first episode of Marburg virus in West Africa, 42 days after cases were identified in Guinea. The patient had contracted the virus and died of it in August of the same year. Sporadic outbreaks and cases have been reported in the past elsewhere in Africa, including South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The origin of this disease dates back to the 1960s, when it was discovered in Marburg, Germany. Researchers suddenly fell ill while working on a vaccine based on monkey cells. They are now considered the first infected with Marburg virus.


see also Do we fear the spread of the Marburg virus epidemic?

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