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New Ebola-like Marburg Virus Possible Outbreak In West Africa

Marburg is a virus similar to Ebola, causing hemorrhagic fever. Guinea confirms West Africa’s first case. It starts with fever and weakness and often leading to internal or external bleeding, organ failure and death. Highly infectious, the virus took a person’s life in Guinea. The shocking news came out after almost two months of Guinea’s declaration of the end of the most recent Ebola outbreak. 

“Gueckedou, where Marburg has been confirmed, is also the same region where cases of the 2021 Ebola outbreak in Guinea as well as the 2014–2016 West Africa outbreak were initially detected,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO) statement. “Samples taken from a now-deceased patient and tested by a field laboratory in Gueckedou as well as Guinea’s national haemorrhagic fever laboratory turned out positive for the Marburg virus. Further analysis by the Institut Pasteur in Senegal confirmed the result.”

Health authorities are now trying to determine the patient’s close contacts and launch a public education campaign. At the moment, ten researchers from WHO is on the ground to explore the recent contamination case and take probes. Guinea’s emergency response received immediate response and support. 

“We applaud the alertness and the quick investigative action by Guinea’s health workers. The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in the statement.

Compared to COVID-19, there is no vaccine against the Marburg virus. Marburg is highly infectious and transmissible through direct contact with bodily fluids or other contaminated objects and surfaces. The only treatment that works on this deadly virus is to help the patients have a chance to survive, not eliminate the threat. 

“Case fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management,” the statement said. “In Africa, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.”