The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the potential discovery of Marburg Virus Disease (MBV) cases in Ghana – two people have died from suspected infection.
The Marburg virus is a member of the Filoviridae family of virus. Similar to Ebola, infection with Marburg results in severe haemorrhagic fever with fatality rates ranging from 20 to 80 per cent.
According to the WHO, the two potential new cases of MBV came from the Southern Ashanti region of Ghana.
Two patients have received care from a local hospital with symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, nausea, and vomiting, but subsequently died from the illness.
A preliminary analysis of samples taken from the patients delivered positive results for the Marburg virus. Standard WHO procedure prescribes sending samples to a central WHO facility in Senegal for confirmation.
Pending further lab work, these could be the first cases of the highly infectious disease ever found in the country.
The WHO reported that contact tracing has commenced, and an outbreak response is being prepared.
“The health authorities are on the ground investigating the situation and preparing for a possible outbreak response,” said Dr. Francis Kasolo, from the WHO division in Ghana.
“We are working closely with the country to ramp up detection, track contacts, be ready to control the spread of the virus.”
The Marburg virus has only been detected in West Africa on one occasion prior to this. Since 1967, most outbreaks have been detected in Southern and Eastern Africa.
The virus is usually associated with exposure to caves or mines housing colonies of Rousettus bats. Once caught by a human, it is spread through contact with bodily fluids of infected people, or with contaminated surfaces and materials, according to the WHO.
The WHO has reported that although there are no approved vaccines or antiviral treatments, oral or intravenous rehydration and treatment of specific symptoms improve survival rates.
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