Two cases of the deadly Marburg virus have been identified in Ghana, the first time the disease has been found in the West African nation. No treatment or vaccine exists for Marburg, which can spread from infected animals such as bats, and which is almost as deadly as Ebola.
The Guardian reports that earlier this month, blood samples taken from two people in the southern Ashanti region suggested they had the virus. The samples were sent to the Pasteur Institute in Senegal, which confirmed the diagnosis, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said. “This is the first time Ghana has confirmed Marburg virus disease,” said the GHS head, Patrick Kuma-Aboagye. Symptoms include high fever as well as internal and external bleeding.
Ninety-eight people identified as contact cases were under quarantine, the GHS statement said.
The World Health Organisation confirmed the cases. “Health authorities have responded swiftly, getting a headstart preparing for a possible outbreak,” said the WHO regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
“This is good because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand. WHO is on the ground supporting health authorities and we are marshalling more resources for the response.”
The WHO said Guinea had confirmed a single case in an outbreak declared over in September 2021.
Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases of Marburg in Africa have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, according to the WHO.
Because Marbug can spread from infected animals, including bats, Ghanaian health authorities have advised the public “to avoid caves inhabited by bat colonies and to cook all meat products thoroughly before consumption”.
The viral illness hits sufferers suddenly, with high fever and severe headaches. Fatality rates in confirmed cases have ranged from 24% to 88% in previous outbreaks, depending on the virus strain and case management, said the WHO.
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