The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has confirmed the country’s first-ever outbreak of the Marburg virus disease.
The development was announced in a statement issued on Sunday.
According to the statement, two deaths have been recorded, while at least 98 contacts have been traced and quarantined.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies the Marburg virus as one that causes fever as experienced by persons who contract Ebola.
According to the WHO, “Marburg is a highly infectious viral haemorrhagic fever in the same family as the more well-known Ebola virus disease”.
In a statement on the development, the WHO added that the two persons confirmed to have died after contracting the Marburg virus, had reported at the same hospital.
“The Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, received samples from each of the two patients from the southern Ashanti region of Ghana – both deceased and unrelated – who showed symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting,” the statement reads.
“The laboratory corroborated the results from the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, which suggested their illness was due to the Marburg virus.
“One case was a 26-year-old male who checked into a hospital on 26 June 2022 and died on 27 June. The second case was a 51-year-old male who reported to the hospital on 28 June and died on the same day. Both cases sought treatment at the same hospital within days of each other.”
The organisation added that it is working with the Ghana health authorities “by deploying experts, making available personal protective equipment, bolstering disease surveillance, testing, tracing contacts 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”.
“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,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, was quoted as saying.
“WHO is on the ground supporting health authorities and now that the outbreak is declared, we are marshalling more resources for the response.”
Meanwhile, the Ghana outbreak is the second-ever incident in West Africa within the past one year.
In August 2021, a case of Marburg virus disease was reported in Guinea, but five weeks after, the outbreak was declared over.
Meanwhile, according to the WHO, neighbouring countries have been informed of the development and they are currently on alert.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT MARBURG
According to studies, the virus is usually transmitted from fruit bats and spread across humans through direct contact with fluids of a person, which can be found on clothes and the skin.
The virus causes fever associated with headache, as well as bleeding and organ failure, with a fatality rate of as high as 80 percent.
A person can develop severe symptoms within a week.
There is currently no approved vaccine for the Marburg virus, but patients are usually treated with rehydration.