AFRICA/GUINEA – Marburg virus occurs for the first time in West Africa

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Conakry – The occurrence of the Marburg virus was confirmed for the first time in the Republic of Guinea. The case was recorded in the southern Gueckedou Prefecture. Marburg disease, a highly contagious disease that causes hemorrhagic fever, was thus diagnosed for the first time in West Africa.
The Marburg virus belongs to the same family as the Ebola virus
was detected less than two months after Guinea declared the end of an Ebola outbreak that broke out earlier this year. Samples taken from a patient who had since died and examined by a field laboratory in Gueckedou and the national hemorrhagic fever laboratory in Guinea had tested positive for the Marburg virus. Further analyzes by the Pasteur Institute in Senegal confirmed the result.
The patient had been treated at a local clinic in the Koundou District of Gueckedou, where a medical team was dispatched to assess his worsening symptoms.
“We appreciate the speed and rapid intervention of the health workers in Guinea. Since the Marburg virus can spread easily, we have to stop it in good time”, said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa. “We are working with health authorities to initiate a swift response that builds on Guinea’s experience and expertise in dealing with Ebola, which has similar modes of transmission.
The Marburg virus is transmitted to humans by bats and spreads through direct contact with the body fluids of infected people and infected surfaces and materials.
The illness starts suddenly with a high fever, severe headache and malaise. Many patients develop severe hemorrhagic symptoms within seven days. The death rate from previous outbreaks ranged from 24% to 88%, depending on the virus strain and crisis management.
Although there are no approved vaccines or antiviral treatments, supportive therapy – particularly rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids – and treatment of specific symptoms improve the chances of survival. A number of potential treatment options are currently being explored, including immunotherapies and drug treatments.
In Africa, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.