Ghana quarantines 98 contacts over Marburg virus disease


The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has confirmed the first two cases of the Marburg virus disease, a highly infectious disease in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola.

This is coming after a preliminary finding of the cases from the Ashanti Region on July 7, 2022, by the country’s Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.

The results were sent to the Institut Pasteur in Dakar (IPD), Senegal, with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) where they were confirmed to be the Marburg virus.

“The two patients from the southern Ashanti region – both deceased and unrelated – showed symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting. They had been taken to a district hospital in Ashanti region,” the WHO disclosed in the preliminary report.

The GHS head, Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, noted that 98 people identified as contact cases were under quarantine, adding that “this is the first time Ghana has confirmed Marburg virus disease.”

Confirming the development, the WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said “Health authorities have responded swiftly, getting a headstart preparing for a possible outbreak.”

“This is good because, without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand. WHO is on the ground supporting health authorities and now that the outbreak is declared, we are marshalling more resources for the response.”

About Marburg Virus

According to WHO, “Marburg is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces and materials.”

The global health body said; “Illness begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache and malaise. Many patients develop severe haemorrhagic signs within seven days. Case fatality rates have varied from 24 per cent to 88 per cent in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management.

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“Although there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus, supportive care – rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids – and treatment of specific symptoms, improve survival.”

WHO further explained that two large outbreaks that occurred simultaneously in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, and in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1967, led to the initial recognition of the disease.

The outbreak was associated with laboratory work using African green monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) imported from Uganda.

Subsequently, outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa (in a person with recent travel history to Zimbabwe) and Uganda.

In 2008, two independent cases were reported in travellers who visited a cave inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies in Uganda.

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