Related to Ebola, Spreads Like Covid & Now on WHO List: All About Marburg Virus as 1st Case Detected in West Africa
Marburg virus, which is carried by bats and has a fatality rate of up to 88 percent, was found in samples taken from a patient who died on August 2 in southern Gueckedou prefecture, the WHO said.
Guinea confirmed a case of Marburg disease, the World Health Organization said on Monday, the first recorded in West Africa of the lethal virus that’s related to Ebola and, like Covid-19, passed from animal hosts to humans. The virus, which is carried by bats and has a fatality rate of up to 88 percent, was found in samples taken from a patient who died on August 2 in southern Gueckedou prefecture, the WHO said.
“The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. The discovery comes just two months after the WHO declared an end to Guinea’s second outbreak of Ebola, which started last year and claimed 12 lives. In Geneva, the WHO said it considered the threat “high” at the national and regional level, but “low” globally.
Here’s all you need to know about the latest virus:
The first epidemic occurred in Germany and Yugoslavia after infected green monkeys were imported to those countries. There was a 23% fatality rate there among 31 patients. The worst epidemic was in Angola in 2005, with 252 infections and a 90% death rate. This epidemic apparently spread through the reuse of contaminated transfusion equipment in a paediatric ward. As with Ebola, transmission can occur at funerals and in handling bodies. There was one report of sexual transmission.
Two notable illnesses occurred among tourists who had gone caving in Uganda in 2009, Forbes reported. The first was a Dutch woman who died after being “bumped” by a bat. The second was a Colorado woman who developed a febrile illness and became critically ill after a trip to Uganda. While initially no diagnosis was made, she requested retesting after learning about the Dutch woman; both had been in the same cave. She was subsequently diagnosed with Marburg.
How does it spread?
Marburg virus is usually associated with exposure to caves or mines housing colonies of Rousettus bats. Once caught by a human, it is spread through contact with bodily fluids of infected people, or with contaminated surfaces and materials, according to the WHO. There have been 12 major Marburg outbreaks since 1967, mostly in southern and eastern Africa.
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. The first cases of the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic, the largest in history, also were from the same region in south-eastern Guinea’s forest region.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include headache, vomiting blood, muscle pains and bleeding through various orifices. Many patients develop severe haemorrhagic signs within seven days. Case fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management.
There are no known effective antivirals or vaccines and treatments for Ebola are not effective in Marburg. Supportive hospital therapy should be utilized, which includes balancing the patient’s fluids and electrolytes, maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure, replacing lost blood and clotting factors, and treatment for any complicating infections, says CDC.
The only good news in this is that Marburg epidemics have historically been smaller and better contained than Ebola.