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Ghana Confirms Two Fatal Cases of Marburg Virus


Particles of the Marburg virus are shown in false color here. | Image by Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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The highly contagious Marburg virus has now been verified in two cases in Ghana, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Two unrelated patients from Ghana’s southern Ashanti area tested positive for the virus and later died, prompting the announcement. According to WHO, the patients reported diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting symptoms. More than 90 contacts are being kept under observation.

The Ebola-like virus does not yet have a vaccine. However, therapy that includes oral or intravenous rehydration and treatment of specific symptoms might increase a patient’s chances of survival, according to the WHO.

WHO reports that Marburg is a highly contagious viral hemorrhagic fever related to the more well-known Ebola virus illness and has a fatality rate of up to 88%. “Illness begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache, and malaise,” the report stated.

Due to extended exposure by individuals working in mines and caves that harbor Rousettus bat colonies, Marburg may have been spread to humans from African fruit bats. This illness is not airborne; it is transferred from one person to another by touching body fluids, contaminated surfaces, or items.

WHO said, “Health authorities have responded swiftly, getting a head start preparing for a possible outbreak. This is good because, without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand.”

To lower the chance of the virus spreading, the Ghana Health Service has advised people to stay away from fruit bat-inhabited mines and caves and to properly prepare any meat items before eating. According to the health service, fruit bats are the Marburg virus’ natural hosts.

WHO reports that nations more likely to experience a return of the virus have been notified and are “on alert.”

On Monday, the WHO announced that it is sending its specialists to Ghana and backing a “joint national investigative team” there. In response to the few patients, it is also distributing personal protective equipment, stepping up disease surveillance, and locating contacts.

After Guinea discovered the virus last year, the outbreak in Ghana is only the second epidemic in West Africa. The virus also claimed a person’s life during the Guinea outbreak. Health authorities in Guinea verified that there were no more instances.

Previous outbreaks have been documented in South Africa, Kenya, Angola, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among other African countries. With more than 200 fatalities, the Angola epidemic in 2005 was the worst.        

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