WHO confirms first case of Ebola-like Marburg virus in West Africa

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the first case of another deadly and highly infectious disease called the Marburg Virus in West Africa. The case was detected after a man died of the virus in Guinea.

The virus, which belongs to the same family as Ebola, spreads from human to human through bodily fluids and can have a fatality rate of up to 88 percent.

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.

“We applaud the alertness and the quick investigative action by Guinea’s health workers. The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks. We are working with the health authorities to implement a swift response that builds on Guinea’s past experience and expertise in managing Ebola, which is transmitted in a similar way,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

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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