Over 150 contacts of Marburg virus case, Ebola's deadly cousin, identified: WHO

Published on Aug 11, 2021 08:59 PM IST

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said though Marburg is a very different virus from Sars-CoV-2, many of the elements of the response are the same.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.(Reuters / File)
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.(Reuters / File)
By | Written by Kunal Gaurav, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Days after Guinea confirmed the death of a person infected with the Marburg virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that about 150 contacts, including three family members and a health worker, have been identified so far. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press briefing Wednesday that though Marburg, a deadly cousin of Ebola, is a very different virus from Sars-CoV-2, many of the elements of the response are the same, including isolation, tracing, and quarantining their contacts.

“WHO and our partners are supporting Guinea’s ministry of health to investigate the source of the outbreak, trace contacts, and inform the local community about how to protect themselves,” Tedros said in his opening remarks.

On Friday, Guinea informed the UN health agency of a case of Marburg virus disease in the country’s southwest. The patient, also the first known case of Marburg in West Africa, died 8 days after the onset of symptoms. The highly dangerous pathogen causes haemorrhagic fever and, according to past outbreaks, the average fatality rate is 50 per cent.

“There is no licensed vaccine for Marburg, although there are vaccines under development, and WHO is working with our partners to seek opportunities to assess them during this outbreak through the R&D Blueprint for Epidemics,” Tedros added.

Also Read | Guinea confirms first case of Marburg disease: All you need to know

The natural reservoir of the Marburg virus is the African fruit bat. The virus takes its name from the German city of Marburg where it was first identified in 1967. The outbreak was associated with a laboratory where workers had been in contact with African green monkeys imported from Uganda.

According to the WHO, the incubation period for Marburg virus disease varies from 2 to 21 days. The symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, muscular pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, which makes Marburg difficult to diagnose initially as they are similar to typhoid and malaria.

“Haemorrhagic episodes typically follow between five and seven days later, with blood in the vomit and faeces and bleeding from the nose, gums and vagina. In fatal cases, death occurs most often between eight and nine days,” the WHO says on its website.

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