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Marburg Virus Found in Ghana is As Deadly as Ebola

A new deadly virus has been identified in the West African nation of Ghana. For the first time in history, the country confirmed 2 cases of Marburg Virus, a highly contagious disease belonging to the same family as the Ebola virus. Both patients recently died after their blood samples turned out positive earlier this month.

Currently, there is no treatment or vaccine for Marburg, which is considered as dangerous as Ebola. Ghana Health Services (GHS) said that about 98 people have been identified as contact cases and put under quarantine. It also confirmed that no further Marburg cases were detected.

What is Marburg Virus?

Marburg virus disease (MVD), previously known as Marburg haemorrhagic fever, is a rare and fatal illness caused by Marburg marburgvirus (MARV), an animal-borne virus of the filovirus family. Ebola virus is the only other known member of this family. Its symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pains, internal and external bleeding, and vomiting blood.

From what little is known about MVD, all recorded outbreaks of this virus have originated in the African continent. The host is believed to be an African fruit bat called Rousettus aegyptiacus. Bats infected with this virus do not show signs of illness, but humans can develop fatal diseases upon infection. The researchers are still trying to find out if it can be transmitted from any other animal.

MVD virus is not contagious unless the arrival of symptoms. It only transmits by coming in contact with bodily fluids or contaminated material. MVD is not an airborne disease but has the potential to cause epidemics with significantly higher causality rates. Several candidates for the MVD vaccine are still undergoing trials.

It Can Get Out of Hand

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared it the first official outbreak in Ghana as it assured the public about an immediate response. It backed its decision by acknowledging that the Marburg virus can easily “get out of hand” without decisive action. The global health authority said it was supporting the Ghana officials on the ground by gathering more resources for the response.

Meanwhile, health officials have advised the citizens to increase water intake and treat each symptom specifically. They said it could greatly improve the chances of survival against this disease. They also warned citizens to cook meat thoroughly before use and stay away from the caves.

The fatality percentage of confirmed MVD cases lies between 24% and 88%, as noted from other outbreaks in the past.

Previous MVD Outbreaks

Marburg virus was first identified in 1967 after simultaneous outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever happened inside labs in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany and in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). According to archives, 31 people were infected, and 7 died. In the beginning, it was only lab workers who were later joined by other medical personnel and thier family members.

After that, the virus reappeared in Africa, causing fatal outbreaks in Angola, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Africa. The 2005 outbreak in Angola killed over 200 people and is the deadliest one ever listed on the WHO record.

The last outbreak of MVD was in August 2021 in Guinea, resulting in the death of a single patient.

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