BY Mildred Europa Taylor, 9:05am August 10, 2021,

Marburg virus: Five things to know about the deadly virus that has just been found in West Africa

Guinean medical workers register for anti-Ebola vaccines after an outbreak of the illness earlier this year. Photograph: Carol Valade/AFP/Getty Images

Guinea has confirmed one death from the Marburg virus, a deadly Ebola-related disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. This is the first time that the disease has been identified in West Africa. Since 1967, there have been 12 major outbreaks of Marburg, but this has mostly been in southern and eastern Africa.

Health authorities in Guinea identified the country’s new case last week, just two months after the WHO declared the country free of Ebola. The patient, who died of the lethal virus, first went for treatment at a local clinic before his condition got worse, the WHO said on Monday.

“The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks. We are working with the health authorities to implement a swift response that builds on Guinea’s past experience with Ebola, which is transmitted in a similar way,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, said.

Curiously, both the Marburg case and this year’s Ebola cases were detected in Guinea’s Gueckedou district, near the borders with Liberia and Ivory Coast. Currently, 155 suspected contact cases are undergoing 21 days of quarantine, Guinea’s Health Ministry said.

Here’s what you need to know about the Marburg virus:

  1. Marburg is caused by a virus which comes from the same family (Filoviridae or filovirus) as the virus which leads to Ebola disease, according to the WHO. It causes hemorrhagic fever, and has a fatality rate of up to 88%.
  2. Marburg virus is often associated with exposure to caves or mines inhabited by Rousettus bats. Once an individual contracts the virus, it is spread through contact with bodily fluids of infected people, or with contaminated surfaces and materials, according to the WHO.
  3. Symptoms include high fever, muscle aches, severe headache, pains, severe watery diarrhoea, cramping, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Diarrhoea can go on for a week.
  4. At the moment, there is no approved vaccine or antiviral drug for this disease. However, a range of blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently under development, WHO says.
  5. Marburg shares its name with the German town of Marburg. 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, according to the WHO. In subsequent years, outbreaks and sporadic cases were reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 10, 2021

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