Don’t only talk about COVID-19, focus on Ebola-like Marburg virus too – GHS

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The Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service is calling on all health personnel across the country to begin discussions on the deadly and highly infectious Marburg Virus, which could be the next pandemic.

His call comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed one fatality from the deadly Marburg Virus in Guinea, West Africa recently.

According to Dr. Asiedu Bekoe, the virus has similar symptoms as Ebola and spreads from human to human through body fluids and can have a fatality rate of up to 88 percent.

Speaking to ABC News, Dr Bekoe said an alert has been sent to all the regions to activate their response systems and be on the look out for the signs and symptoms of the virus.

“We’re working on a case definition which will be sent out today or tomorrow to the various regions – this will guide the various health facilities to look out for signs and symptoms of the disease when its presented,” Dr. Bekoe said.

WHO confirmed the first case of the deadly and highly infectious Marburg Virus Guinea, after a man died of the virus in that country.

Symptoms include a high fever and muscle pain, but some patients later suffer bleeding from their eyes and ears.

Confirming the virus in a tweet, WHO said Marburg was detected less than two months after Guinea declared an end to an Ebola outbreak that erupted earlier this year. After the male patient sought treatment and died in Gueckedou, the case was confirmed by a laboratory in Guinea and again by the Institut Pasteur in nearby Senegal.

According to WHO, contact tracing is under way to contain the spread of the virus as the country is currently battling with COVID-19.

About Marburg Virus

Marburg is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces and materials. Illness begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache and malaise. Many patients develop severe haemorrhagic signs within seven days. Case fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management.

Although there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus, supportive care – rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids – and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival.

A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies, are being evaluated. The first ever Marburg outbreak was in Germany in 1967 where seven people died. In Africa, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.

The virus killed more than 200 people in Angola in 2005, the deadliest outbreak on record according to the global health body.

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