WHO Warns Of Emerging Marburg Virus In Africa

Richard Ginika Izuora

The World Health Organization, WHO, has alerted of emerging Marburg virus in parts of Africa.

A case has already been reported of a man who died in Guinea after testing positive for the Ebola-like virus.

WHO, calls for regional effort and collaboration to track its potential spread.

The victim in Guinea reportedly fell sick with fever, headache, fatigue and abdominal pain last month in Gueckedou close to the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia, and then died on August 2.

Laboratory test outcome disclosed he died from the Marburg virus which is a highly infectious disease that causes hemorrhagic fever.

According to the Organization it has a fatality rate of up to 88 per cent and is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola.

Marburg is believed to have originated in bats and is passed from animal hosts to humans.

According to available data, Ebola killed at least 11,325 people in the 2014-2016 epidemic that started in the same part of Guinea.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, said, “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,”

Marburg outbreaks start when an infected animal, such as a monkey or a fruit bat; passes the virus to a human. The virus then spreads from human to human by contact with an infected person’s body fluids. Marburg symptoms include high fever and muscle pains. Some patients later bleed through body openings like eyes and ears, the WHO said.This is the first time the virus has been detected in Guinea.

However, previous outbreaks have erupted elsewhere across Africa in Angola, Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. There is no approved drug or vaccine for Marburg. But rehydration and other supportive care can improve a patient’s chances of survival, said WHO.

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