The nation of Ghana is in panic as the government has confirmed its initial two cases of the extremely infectious Marburg virus disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed this on Sunday in a statement.
This dreaded announcement came after two patients from the southern Ashanti region of Ghana, who were unrelated, died later late. When tested, the tests came back positive for the Marburg virus.
The patients were in distress. But, due to lack of treatment, all that could be done was to ease their suffering. The patients had shown symptoms including fever, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting, WHO said. They also mentioned that more than 90 people who had come in contact with these individuals were being monitored.
Marburg Virus is an extremely infectious viral hemorrhagic fever. It falls in the same family as the better-known Ebola virus disease. The Marburg virus has a mortality ratio of up to 88%, according to WHO. This makes the virus one of the deadliest in recent times. “The Illness begins suddenly, with malaise, high fever and severe headache,” WHO confirmed.
The virus spreads to humans from fruit bats. The Marburg virus can be spread from human to human through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, i.e. nasal or oral secretions. WHO explained that the virus could also spread through surfaces and materials contaminated with the fluids.
The World Health Organization said containment measures were being put in place. They also assured that extreme measures and more resources would be arranged in response to the outbreak of the virus in Ghana.
WHO also warned that “without immediate and significant action, Marburg virus can easily get out of hand.” This is very plausible, given the recent Covid-19 pandemic.
There are no accepted vaccines or antiviral medications for the Marburg virus. However, we can improve the patient’s chances of survival with bedside care. These include oral or intravenous rehydration and symptom-specific treatment, WHO said.
The Ghana Health Service has advised the Ghanaian public to avoid caves and mines occupied by fruit bats. It has also issued a health advisory to cook all meat products before consumption thoroughly. This is to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus. The Ghana health service said that fruit bats are natural hosts of the Marburg virus.
The Ghana outbreak is the second country in West Africa after Guinea detected the virus last year. The patient affected in the Guinea outbreak also died from the virus. Guinean health authorities confirmed no extra cases.
In other parts of Africa, prior outbreaks have been reported in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, South Africa and Angola. The outbreak in Angola in 2005 was the deadliest, killing more than 200 people.
According to WHO, countries at higher risk of a resurgence of the virus have been contacted “, and they are on alert.”