Ghana confirms outbreak of deadly Marburg Virus

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Marburg virus cases confirmed in Ghana following deaths of two men; Courtesy Photo

Ghana has confirmed its first two cases of the deadly Marburg virus, a highly infectious disease in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola.

It says both patients died recently in hospital in the southern Ashanti region.

Their samples came back positive earlier this month and have now been verified by a laboratory in Senegal.

Health officials in the West African nation say 98 people are now under quarantine as suspected contact cases.

Marburg virus disease (MVD), formerly known as Marburg haemorrhagic fever, is a severe disease in humans caused by Marburg marburgvirus (MARV). Although MVD is uncommon, MARV has the potential to cause epidemics with significant case fatality rates.

No treatment yet exists for Marburg – but doctors say drinking plenty of water and treating specific symptoms improves a patient’s chances of survival.

The virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads between humans through the transmission of bodily fluids. MVD is not an airborne disease and is considered not to be contagious before symptoms appear.

It is a severe, often fatal illness with symptoms including headache, fever, muscle pains, vomiting blood and bleeding.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which is supporting the country’s health authorities, has praised Ghana’s swift response.

“This is good because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa director.

Officials are warning people to keep away from caves and to thoroughly cook all meat products before consuming them.

This is the second time that Marburg has been identified in West Africa. There was one confirmed case in Guinea last year, but that outbreak was declared over in September, five weeks after the case was identified.

Elsewhere on the continent, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, the WHO says.

The virus killed more than 200 people in Angola in 2005, the deadliest outbreak on record according to the global health body.

The first ever Marburg outbreak was in Germany in 1967 where seven people died.

The virus killed more than 200 people in Angola in 2005, the deadliest outbreak on record according to the global health body.

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