Marburg outbreak in Guinea: Nigeria, other West African countries at risk
Posted by News Express | 10 August 2021 | 619 times
By FRED EZEH, Abuja
The Africa office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed an outbreak of the Marburg virus, a new disease discovered in the West African country of Guinea.
WHO says it is the first time Marburg, a highly infectious disease that causes haemorrhagic fever, has been identified in Guinea and in West Africa.
Marburg is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces and materials.
Illness from the virus begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache and malaise. Many patients develop severe haemorrhagic signs within seven days, while case fatality rates have varied from 24 per cent to 88 per cent in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management.
WHO, in a statement on Tuesday, indicated that Marburg, which is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola, was detected less than two months after Guinea declared an end to an Ebola outbreak that erupted earlier this year.
It said that samples taken from a now-deceased patient and tested by a field laboratory in Gueckedou as well as Guinea’s national haemorrhagic fever laboratory turned out positive for the Marburg virus, while further analysis by the Institut Pasteur in Senegal confirmed the result.
The patient had sought treatment at a local clinic in the Koundou area of Gueckedou, where a medical investigation team had been dispatched to probe his worsening symptoms.
WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said in the statement: ‘We applaud the alertness and quick investigative action by Guinea’s health workers. The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks.
‘We are working with the health authorities to implement a swift response that builds on Guinea’s past experience and expertise in managing Ebola, which is transmitted in a similar way.’
She confirmed that Gueckedou, where Marburg has been confirmed, is also the same region where cases of the 2021 Ebola outbreak in Guinea as well as the 2014–2016 West Africa outbreak were initially detected.
She said that efforts are underway to find the people who might have been in contact with the patient, as the disease is appearing for the first time in the country and health authorities are launching public education and community mobilisation to raise awareness and galvanise support to help curb widespread infection.
She said that initial team of 10 WHO experts, including epidemiologists and socio-anthropologists, are on the ground helping to investigate the case and supporting the national health authorities to swiftly step up emergency response, including risk assessment, disease surveillance, community mobilisation, testing, clinical care, infection prevention as well as logistical support.
She stressed that cross-border surveillance is also being enhanced to quickly detect any case with neighbouring countries on alert. ‘The Ebola control systems in Guinea and in neighbouring countries are proving crucial to the emergency response to the Marburg virus.
‘Although, there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus, supportive care like rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival. A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies, are being evaluated.’ (Daily Sun)