Ghana has reported its first ever suspected cases of Marburg virus.
Marburg virus is a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever in the same family as Ebola. It is spread to people by fruit bats and transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected people and surfaces.
Illness begins abruptly and many patients develop severe haemorrhagic signs within seven days. There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the cases were discovered in two patients from the southern Ashanti region – both deceased and unrelated. They showed symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting.
The WHO said although preliminary analysis of samples taken from two patients by the country’s Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research indicated the cases were positive for Marburg, per the standard procedure, the samples have been sent to the Institut Pasteur in Senegal, a WHO collaborating centre, for confirmation.
It said if confirmed, these would the first infections recorded in Ghana and the second time Marburg has been detected in West Africa — Guinea being the first in 2021.
“They had been taken to a district hospital in Ashanti region. Preparations for a possible outbreak response are being set up swiftly as further investigations are underway,” the statement reads.
“WHO is deploying experts to support Ghana’s health authorities by bolstering disease surveillance, testing, tracing contacts, preparing to treat patients and working with communities to alert and educate them about the risks and dangers of the disease and to collaborate with the emergency response teams.”
Francis Kasolo, WHO representative in Ghana, said health authorities are on the ground investigating the situation.
“We are working closely with the country to ramp up detection, track contacts, be ready to control the spread of the virus,” he said.