Ghana confirms first outbreak of deadly Marburg virus

The announcement comes after two unrelated patients from Ghana’s southern Ashanti region, both of whom later died, tested positive for the virus.

The WHO said the patients had symptoms including diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting, adding that more than 90 contacts are being monitored.

Marburg is a highly contagious viral haemorrhagic fever that belongs to the same family as the better known Ebola virus disease and has a fatality rate of up to 88% according to the WHO. “The disease begins suddenly, with a high fever, severe headache and malaise,” the report says.

The virus is transmitted to humans from bats, and then can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact with the body fluids of infected people or surfaces and materials contaminated with these fluids, the WHO explained.

The global health authority said containment measures were being taken and that additional resources would be deployed in response to the outbreak in Ghana. The WHO also warned that “without immediate and decisive action, Marburg could easily spiral out of control.”

There are no approved vaccines or antivirals for Marburg virus. However, a patient’s chances of survival can be improved with care, including oral or intravenous rehydration and treatment of specific symptoms, the WHO said.

Ghana Health Service urged the Ghanaian public to avoid fruit bat mines and caves and cook all meat products thoroughly before consumption to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. According to the health service, bats are natural vectors for the Marburg virus.
The outbreak in Ghana is the second in West Africa after Guinea. virus detected last year. A patient during the outbreak in Guinea also died from the virus. No other cases have been confirmed by the Guinean health authorities.
Elsewhere in Africa, previous outbreaks have been reported in Uganda, Kenya, Angola, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The outbreak in Angola in 2005 was the deadliest. over 200 killed.

According to the WHO, countries at increased risk of a re-emergence of the virus have been contacted “and are on alert.”

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