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Marburg virus: Ghana confirms its first outbreak of the deadly virus

The announcement comes after two unrelated patients from the southern Ashanti region of Ghana, both of whom died later, tested positive for the virus.

The patients were showing symptoms including diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting, the WHO said, adding that more than 90 contacts are being monitored.

Marburg is a highly contagious viral hemorrhagic fever from the same family as the better-known Ebola virus disease and has a mortality rate of up to 88%, according to the WHO. “The illness begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headaches and malaise,” he said.

The virus is transmitted to humans by fruit bats and can then spread from human to human through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people or surfaces and materials contaminated with those fluids, the WHO explained. .

The global health body said containment measures were being put in place and more resources would be deployed in response to the outbreak in Ghana. The WHO also warned that “without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily spiral out of control.”

There are no approved vaccines or antiviral treatments for Marburg virus. However, a patient’s chances of survival can be improved with care that includes oral or intravenous rehydration and treatment of specific symptoms, the WHO said.

The Ghana Health Service urged the Ghanaian public to avoid mines and caves occupied by fruit bats and to cook all meat products thoroughly before consumption, to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Fruit bats are natural hosts of the Marburg virus, the health department said.
Ghana’s outbreak is only the second in West Africa after Guinea detected the virus last year. The Guinea outbreak patient also died from the virus. No other cases have been confirmed by Guinean health authorities.
In other parts of Africa, previous outbreaks have been reported in Uganda, Kenya, Angola, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 2005 Angola outbreak was the deadliest with over 200 people killed.

According to the WHO, the countries most at risk of a resurgence of the virus have been contacted “and they are on alert”.


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