September 17, 2021

First West African case of deadly Marburg virus detected: WHO

Guinea has confirmed a case of Marburg disease, the World Health Organization said on Monday, the first deadly virus in West Africa to be linked to Ebola and transmitted from hosts of animals such as Cove 19 to humans.

The WHO said the virus, which is transmitted by bats and has a mortality rate of up to 88 percent, was found in samples taken from a patient who died on August 2 in southern Gokido prefecture.

“The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means that we need to stop it in its tracks,” said Dr. Matshediso Moti, WHO’s regional director for Africa.

The revelation comes just two months after the WHO announced the end of the second Ebola epidemic in Guinea, which began last year and killed 12 people.

“We are working with health authorities to implement a rapid response based on Guinea’s past experience and expertise in managing Ebola, which is how it is transmitted,” Moti said.

The Marburg virus is usually associated with exposure to cave or mine-dwelling colonies. According to the WHO, once a person is caught, it is spread through contact with infected people’s body fluids or contaminated surfaces and materials.

“We appreciate the vigilance and prompt investigation of Guinean health workers,” Moti said.

The patient was treated at a Gokido clinic, where a medical team was dispatched immediately after his condition deteriorated.

Spread the margins.
Margos epidemic is often linked to exposure to colonies of rosette bats Photo: AFP / Yasir al-Dhayat

Ten WHO experts, including epidemiologists and social and anthropologists, are already in the field to assist national health officials.

Emergency response includes risk assessment, disease monitoring, community mobilization and screening, clinical care, infection control and logistical support, the WHO said.

He said cross-border surveillance has also been stepped up so that possible issues can be identified soon.

Past epidemics and sporadic incidents have been reported in South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But this is the first time the virus has been detected in West Africa.

The disease starts suddenly with a high fever, severe headache and discomfort.

The WHO says the mortality rate ranges from 24% to 88%, depending on the strain of the virus and case management.

Although there is no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment, oral or internal rehydration and treatment of specific symptoms improves survival rates.

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