Two new cases of the deadly Marburg virus detected in Ghana

July 19, 2022
Two new cases of the deadly Marburg virus detected in Ghana

Ghana has confirmed two cases of the highly infectious Marburg virus disease (MVD), local health authorities report. The two people tested positive for the virus, which belongs to the Ebola family of viruses, before succumbing to the illness at a hospital in the southern Ashanti region.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), test results have been verified by a laboratory in Senegal, after which a total of 98 people were placed under quarantine as suspected contact cases – these include relatives, medics, and mortuary workers who came into contact with the two patients. Strict infection measures have been implemented in communities as well.

The outbreak in Ghana is only the second known outbreak of MVD in west Africa. The first ever case of the virus in the region was detected last year in Guinea. No further cases have been identified since.

However, central Africa – Angola – holds the record for the deadliest outbreak of MVD, which killed more than 200 people in 2005.

The Marburg virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces, and materials. Often overlooked symptoms of MVD such as fever, vomiting, muscle pains, and diarrhea, eventually lead to severe and fatal haemorrhagic episodes.

The two patients in southern Ghana’s Ashanti region both had symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting, before dying in hospital.

No treatment yet exists for this disease – doctors advise drinking plenty of water and treating specific symptoms to improve a patient’s chances of survival. Ghanaian officials, meanwhile, are warning people to keep away from caves and to thoroughly cook all meat products before eating them.

The WHO has flagged MVD as a potential pandemic threat due to its highly infectious nature. “Marburg can easily get out of hand […] without immediate and decisive action,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

There have been a dozen major Marburg outbreaks since it was first detected in Germany in 1967, mostly in southern and eastern Africa. Fatality rates have varied in past outbreaks depending on the virus strain and case management, the WHO said.

Category: Community, Features

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