As the world continues to grapple with COVID-19, another deadly outbreak has made its way to West Africa, already causing two deaths.
The African country of Ghana has had its first outbreak of Marburg – a virus that is associated with symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting, which can lead to death.
Two individuals have contracted Marburg, both dying from the virus shortly after being admitted to the hospital. One case involved a 26-year-old man, who died on June 27, while the other case was a 51-year-old man, who died on June 28 – the same day he was hospitalized for the virus.
The two cases are unrelated and were discovered by the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, through sample testing of two patients that hailed from the southern Ashanti region of Ghana.
The World Health Organization has been investigating the outbreak along with health authorities in the Ashanti region. The agency is warning residents of the country about the risks and dangers of the Marburg virus as well as making PPE available.
More than 90 contacts of the two men have been identified by officials and are currently being monitored, the WHO said.
“Health authorities have responded swiftly, getting a head start preparing for a possible outbreak. This is good because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said in a statement.
Marburg is a highly contagious fever-related disease from the same family as Ebola. According to WHO officials, it is only the second time the virus has been detected in West Africa, where Guinea confirmed one case in a single outbreak in 2021.
The deadly virus is transmitted from fruit bats and spread to humans through bodily fluids, surfaces, and materials, the WHO said. Individuals that contract the Marburg virus typically have an abrupt fever, severe headache, and malaise which can develop into severe hemorrhagic signs in as soon as seven days.
According to the WHO, the fatality rate from Marburg ranges from 24% to 88%, depending on the strain of the virus and the quality of case management. There are no current vaccines or treatments approved to treat the virus.
Other outbreaks and sporadic cases of the Marburg virus have occurred in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.
The WHO said it has warned Ghana’s neighboring countries about Marburg’s risk.