Ghana announced the country’s first outbreak of the Marburg virus disease after two unrelated people died on June 27 and 28. News of a new outbreak of a deadly disease caused by viral infection has raised concerns from a society tired of battling the coronavirus pandemic, which has recently been hit by the spread of monkeypox and new cases of polio have been warned.
Doctors and public health experts across the country immediately began tracing contacts and investigating the cause of the spread in an effort to contain the infection. So far, health researchers in Ghana and elsewhere around the world say there is no evidence that the virus has spread any further.
What is Marburg virus disease?
Marburg was first discovered in 1967 when outbreaks of dengue fever occurred simultaneously in laboratories in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany and in Belgrade in Serbia today in cases associated with African green monkeys imported from Uganda.
According to the World Health Organization, additional cases have been identified in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Last month’s case in Ghana was the first to be reported in the country. The Marburg virus is the pathogen that causes Marburg virus disease in humans, health experts say.
There is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for the disease, medical experts say, but keeping patients hydrated and treating their specific symptoms can increase their chances of survival.
This disease is clinically similar to Ebola in terms of spread, symptoms and course of the disease, although according to WHO it is caused by a different virus. In the case of Marburg, the flying foxes were thought to be the hosts for the virus, although the researchers said it didn’t make them sick.
Researchers believe Ebola was likely transmitted by bats or non-human primates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While not yet widespread, Marburg is deadly, with mortality rates ranging from 24 percent to 88 percent, depending on the type of illness people have and how the cases are managed, according to the W.H.O. The Ebola death rate is almost the same.
According to WHO, the Marburg virus can be transmitted through direct contact with the blood, secretions or other body fluids of an infected person. It can also be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces and materials, such as bedding or clothing.
What are the Symptoms of Marburg Virus Disease?
can cause severe viral hemorrhagic fever that affects the blood’s ability to clot. The incubation period ranges from two to 21 days, and symptoms start suddenly with a high fever, severe headache, and severe malaise, according to the W.H.O. Other symptoms can include muscle aches, diarrhea, nausea, lethargy, and bleeding from vomit, stool, and other body parts.
“The death rate is very high,” said dr. John Amuasi, Head of the Global Infectious Diseases and Health Research Group at the Kumasi Collaborative Research Center in Tropical Medicine in Kumasi, Ghana. “And there’s no asymptomatic Marburg.”
A patient can confirm his condition in Marburg through antibody, antigen and polymerase chain reaction tests, the health organization said.
How many cases have there been this year?
Only two cases of Marburg virus disease have been reported this year, both of which have been reported in Ghana. The people who contracted the virus were unrelated and lived in different parts of the Ashanti region of Ghana, said Dr. Amuasi. They both died.
The two patients were men who worked in the fields, he said. One was a 26-year-old farm worker who had recently worked in another part of the country and the other was a 56-year-old farmer. Contact tracing by local authorities led to the conclusion that the people were not in the same place. Fruit bats, which are known to transmit the virus, are widespread in the Ashanti region.
How does the outbreak compare to the previous one?
More than 200 people died in the outbreak in Angola from 2004 to 2005, and more than 100 died from the disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1998 to 2000, according to the CDC. The other Marburg outbreaks did not cover many cases.
In 2021, there was a case in Guinea that resulted in the person’s death, and three out of four people who contracted the disease in Uganda in 2017 also died, according to the CDC.
Experts want to know how the two contracted the virus in Ghana, said Dr. Francis Kasolo, W.H.O. state representatives.
“The current investigation is not focused solely on contacts,” said Dr. Casolo. “We will also return to medical records in the area to see if there have been any unusual occurrences with respect to cases showing symptoms. We therefore refrain from saying this is a one-off event.”
Do we need to worry?
The Ghana CDC Office is working with local health authorities to assist with epidemiological testing and investigations, said Dr. Jonathan Towner, who heads the Division of Viral Host Ecology at the CDC.
People in the United States are not at high risk of exposure, said Dr. city dweller
“Right now it’s very, very unlikely that passengers will come into the country with Marburg, for example, at this time,” he said.
So far, said dr. Amuasi, public health response is appropriate and transparent. The contacts of the two infected were mainly followed up within 21 days of the death of the two.