Ghanaian authorities have confirmed two infections with the Marburg virus, the course of which resembles an infection with the Ebola virus. Two people confirmed to have the virus died. These are the first confirmed cases of the pathogen in this country and the second outbreak of the virus in West Africa.
The first tests for Marburg virus, carried out in a laboratory in Ghana, were positive. To confirm the results, the samples were referred to a biomedical institute in Senegal that collaborates with the World Health Organization. Ghana’s health authority (GHS) said on Sunday that tests carried out by the Pasteur Institute in Dakar had tested positive.
The press release said the GHS was working to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. All people who have had contact with the infected are isolated. At this point in time, none of these people had any symptoms of infection.
The deceased patients, from the Ashanti region of central Ghana, exhibited symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting. Both cases were not related to each other.
Marburg virus – what is it?
Marburg virus infection occurs through direct contact with infected persons, surfaces or materials. The first symptoms are, inter alia, high fever, chronic headache and malaise. The virus attacks all major organs and tissues. It causes a fever of up to 40 degrees and causes internal and external bleeding.
The virus is not very contagious, but tens of percent of infected people die. In previous Marburg virus outbreaks, the death rate has ranged from 24 percent to 88 percent. There are no approved vaccines against the disease caused by the virus and no drugs to combat it. Oral or intravenous hydration and management of individual symptoms increases the chances of survival.
Previous outbreaks and isolated cases of Marburg virus infections in Africa have been registered in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and also in Uganda, the WHO notes. Ghana is the second West African country to have confirmed the presence of the virus. The first was Guinea.
The virus owes its name to the German city of Marburg, where it was discovered in 1967 – then the staff of the laboratory there contracted the infection from monkeys imported from Uganda. The largest outbreak of the disease took place in 2005 in Angola, when 374 people became infected, 329 of whom died.
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