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Equatorial Guinea confirms outbreak of Marburg virus, nine persons dead: WHO

News Agencies | Updated on: 14 February 2023, 9:44 IST

At least nine people have died in Equatorial Guinea from the "outbreak" of the Marburg virus, which causes hemorrhagic fever and is similar to the 'Ebola' disease, World Health Organization (WHO) said.

In a press statement, WHO said that Equatorial Guinea confirmed its first-ever outbreak on Monday (local time) after the nine people's samples turned out positive for the Marburg virus disease.

As per the statement, the advance teams have been deployed in the affected districts to trace contacts, isolate and provide medical care to people showing symptoms of the disease.

WHO is deploying health emergency experts in epidemiology, case management, infection prevention, laboratory, and risk communication to support the national response efforts and secure community collaboration in outbreak control.

WHO is also facilitating the shipment of laboratory glove tents for sample testing as well as one viral hemorrhagic fever kit that includes personal protective equipment that can be used by 500 health workers.

"Marburg is highly infectious. Thanks to the rapid and decisive action by the Equatorial Guinean authorities in confirming the disease, emergency response can get to full steam quickly so that we save lives and halt the virus as soon as possible," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

According to the WHO, the Marburg virus disease is a highly virulent disease with a fatality ratio of up to 88 per cent. It is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola virus disease. Illness caused by the Marburg virus begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache, and severe malaise. Many patients developed severe hemorrhagic symptoms within seven days.

The virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces, and materials.

Till now, there are no vaccines or treatments found to treat the virus, however, there is supportive care that can improve the survival chances.

A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies, and drug therapies, as well as candidate vaccines with phase 1 data are being evaluated.

Meanwhile, Health Minister of Equatorial Guinea Mitoha Ondo'o Ayekaba said that the country had "declared today (Tuesday) the health alert for a Marburg hemorrhagic fever in the province of Kie-Ntem and in the (neighboring) district of Mongomo", according to Africanews.

A "containment plan has been put in place" in close collaboration with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) "to deal with the epidemic" in this area covered by dense equatorial forest in the eastern part of the country's mainland, which also includes two main islands.

The Marburg virus is transmitted to humans by fruit bats and is spread in humans through direct contact with the body fluids of infected persons, or with surfaces and materials, reported Africanews.


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First published: 14 February 2023, 9:44 IST