Marburg virus disease (MVD), formerly known as Marburg hemorrhagic fever, has been detected in two cases in Ghana. BBC reported that the country’s health service announced that the two patients tested positive for the highly infectious disease similar to Ebola earlier this month and later died.
Ghana has officially confirmed two cases of the Marburg virus, a highly infectious disease similar to Ebola, its health service said on Sunday, after two people who later died tested positive for the virus earlier this month.
The World Health Organization (WHO) added that tests conducted in Ghana came back positive on July 10 and were verified by a laboratory in Senegal. Currently, there are no existing treatments for the Marburg virus, but drinking plenty of water and treating specific symptoms could increase a patient’s survival.
The two patients in the southern Ashanti region both had symptoms including diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting, before dying in hospital, the statement said.
If the cases are confirmed, this would be only the second outbreak of Marburg in West Africa. The first ever case of the virus was detected last year in Guinea, with no further cases identified.” Preparations for a possible outbreak response are being set up swiftly as further investigations are underway,” the WHO said.
There have been a dozen major Marburg outbreaks since 1967, mostly in southern and eastern Africa. Fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks depending on the virus strain and case management, according to the WHO.
Key Facts About Marburg Virus:
Marburg virus causes MVD, a disease first detected in 1967 after simultaneous outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany, as well as Belgrade, Serbia. According to WHO, this disease is fatal for humans with a fatality ratio of up to 88%, although it could be improved with good patient care.
This virus is clinically similar to the one that causes Ebola as they are both members of the Filoviridae family (filovirus). More so, both diseases are rare and can cause a disease outbreak.
Human MVD infection initially results from prolonged exposure to mines or caves where Rousettus aegyptiacus or fruit bat colonies live. These bats are considered the natural hosts for the Marburg virus that is then transmitted among humans through direct or close contact via broken skin or mucous membrane, surfaces, and materials, as well as burial services of deceased Marburg virus patients.
The incubation period of the virus is between two to 21 days since exposure. It could begin abruptly with high fever, headache and severe malaise, muscle aches, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, nausea and vomiting, and extreme lethargy.
There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved for MVD, but supportive care, such as rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, could improve survival. Scientists are also studying monoclonal antibodies (mAbs)0 and antivirals, like Remdisivir and Favipiravir that have been used in clinical studies for Ebola Virus Disease, to see if they are also effective against MVD.
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