Marburg Virus disease outbreak declared by WHO

In Equatorial Guinea, the first ever outbreak of Marburg virus disease has been reported after nine people died in the country’s Kie Ntem province. Apart from these deaths, 16 suspected cases with symptoms including fever, fatigue and blood-stained vomit and diarrhea have been reported.

According to the WHO, the disease is highly contagious and causes hemorrhagic fever. It begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache and severe malaise. Of every 100 people who contract the virus, 88 are likely to die.First discovered in 1967, the 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. The virus usually takes between two and 21 days to incubate, leading to abrupt symptoms, some of which can make Marburg difficult to diagnose initially, as they are similar to typhoid and malaria. It is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola virus disease.

Cameroon has been put on red alert since two suspected cases were detected on 13th February and the concerned communities border towns in Cameroon’s southern region. Its ministry of public health has advised the population to avoid contact with body fluids from sick persons, avoid contact with sick or dead animals as well as avoid unprotected sexual intercourse. Handling of corpses by non-medical personnel should be avoided.WHO is deploying health emergency experts in epidemiology, case management, infection prevention, laboratory, and risk communication to support the national response efforts and secure community collaboration in outbreak control.

Currently, there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus.But treatments like rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, have proven to improve an individual's chances of survival. Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in other parts of Africa, including in Angola, DR Congo, Guinea, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.
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