Marburg disease: WHO declares outbreak in Ghana | Top points

Published on Jul 18, 2022 04:36 PM IST

Marburg virus: Fruit bats are said to be the reservoir hosts of the virus.  The disease is transmitted among people through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected people and surfaces.

In humans, the marburg virus causes severe viral hemorrhagic fever.(WHO)
In humans, the marburg virus causes severe viral hemorrhagic fever.(WHO)
Written by Kanishka Singharia | Edited by Sohini Goswami

The World Health Organisation has declared Ghana's first outbreak of the Ebola-like marburg disease after laboratories confirmed the infection in two persons who later succumbed to the virus earlier this month.

The disease, a very infectious hemorrhagic fever in the same family as Ebola, is spread to people by fruit bats and transmitted among people through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected people and surfaces.

The virus had been reported from Ghana's Ashanti region in a 26-year-old, and a 51-year-old male. According to reports, both had symptoms, including diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting, before dying in the hospital.

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) is working to reduce any risk of the virus spreading, including the isolation of all identified contacts. “(Ghanaian) 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," said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

Here are some of the important points about the marburg virus:

1. In humans, the marburg virus causes severe viral hemorrhagic fever. About 50 per cent of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) cases result in fatalities on average.

2. Timely supportive care combined with symptomatic therapy and rehydration increases chances of survival. Although a number of blood products, immunological treatments, and pharmacological therapies are actively being developed, there is currently no licenced treatment that has been demonstrated to neutralise the virus.

3. Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family, Rousettus aegyptiacus, are thought to be the Marburg virus's breeding grounds. The Marburg virus is transferred from person to person by fruit bats, who then pass it on to other individuals.

4.Since 1967, there have been twelve significant marburg outbreaks, primarily in southern and eastern Africa. Depending on the virus type and case treatment, mortality rates in previous outbreaks ranged from 24 to 88 percent, according to the WHO.

5. After Guinea confirmed a single case in August last year, it was only the second that the epidemic was diagnosed in West Africa. Previous marburg outbreaks and individual cases had been reported in Angola, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.

(With agency inputs)

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