Marburg virus: a case detected in Guinea, the first in West Africa

After Ebola and Covid-19, a first case of Marburg virus disease, a very virulent disease that causes hemorrhagic fever, was registered in Guinea, the first case in West Africa, the WHO reported this Monday, August 9.

“The Marburg virus disease, which belongs to the same family as the virus responsible for the Ebola virus disease, was detected less than two months after Guinea declared the end of the Ebola epidemic that had broken out in beginning of the year, “said the regional office of the World Health Organization said in a statement.

The case was detected in the Guéckédou prefecture, in the south of the country. Samples taken from a patient who died Monday and analyzed by a field laboratory in Guéckédou, as well as by the Guinean national laboratory for hemorrhagic fever, tested positive for the Marburg virus. Additional analyzes carried out by the Institut Pasteur in Senegal confirmed this result.

This patient had been treated at a clinic in the town of Koundou in Guéckédou, where a team of medical researchers had been sent to study the worsening of his symptoms.

In a tweet, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted the need to implement “a concerted effort to prevent transmission and protect communities.”

A first team of ten WHO experts, including epidemiologists and socio-anthropologists, is already on the ground and providing support to national health authorities who are working to conduct a comprehensive investigation as soon as possible and intensify emergency interventions ranging from assessment from risk to disease surveillance, community mobilization and screening, clinical care, infection control, and provision of logistical support. Cross-border surveillance is strengthened so that a possible case can be quickly detected.

Marburg virus disease is transmitted to humans through fruit bats and is transmitted in humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people or with surfaces and materials, according to the WHO.

In Africa, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But this is the first time the virus has been detected in West Africa.

The illness begins suddenly, with a high fever, severe headache, and possible discomfort. Fatality rates have ranged from 24% to 88% in previous outbreaks, depending on the virus strain and case management, according to the organization.

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