Ghana has just decreed the first epidemic in its history of Marburg virus disease, a pathology which causes hemorrhagic fever and has a mortality of 50% which can reach more than 80% if it is not treated, according to the Organization. World Health Organization (WHO).
Marburg virus is a filovirus of the Ebola family and both cause similar illnesses. They begin abruptly with fever, headache, and muscle aches, followed by diarrhea, colic, nausea, and vomiting, although skin rashes may also occur. Severe manifestations in the form of haemorrhages usually appear after five or seven days, and in fatal cases there are haemorrhages, usually in several organs. There is blood in the vomit and feces but also bleeding from the nose, gums and vagina.
WHO has recently expressed concern that this is the first time an outbreak has been reported in Ghana. So far, two deaths have been reported, men aged 26 and 51 who died on June 27 and 28 respectively. More than 90 contacts have been identified, which is very relevant since the identification of contacts because the incubation period of the disease can range from two to 21 days.
So far, outbreaks and sporadic cases had been reported in other countries on the continent such as Angola, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. However, this disease was first discovered in Europe. It was in 1967 when there were simultaneous epidemics in two German cities (Marburg and Frankfurt) and Belgrade (Serbia). All three outbreaks were associated with African green monkeys imported from Uganda that were being worked on in laboratories.
“The health authorities reacted quickly, anticipating the preparation of a possible epidemic. This is good because, without immediate and decisive action, the Marburg virus can easily spiral out of control. WHO is on the ground supporting health authorities and now that the outbreak has been declared, we are mobilizing more resources for the response,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a statement. a press release issued by the entity.
Although a case of Marburg has never been recorded in Spain, this zoonotic disease was also present in the book “Infectious diseases in 2050”, from the Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (SEIMC), recently presented. A chapter is devoted to viral hemorrhagic fevers, including the Marburg virus. In this guide, José Ramón Arribas and María Paz Sánchez-Seco warn that although “Spain is not an endemic country for Ebolga and Marburg […] what is expected is that the health system will again have to deal at some point with the repatriation of cases by cooperating in the area or assisting imported cases”.
Spain is the only country in Europe where an autochthonous case of Ebola has occurred by transmission from a patient in Sierra Leone. “It caused great social alarm and demonstrated our lack of preparedness against high-risk infectious diseases,” the SEIMC book reads. Infectious disease specialists also point out that “Eboa, Marburg and Lassa diseases (another virus) are also included in the WHO priority list of diseases presenting the greatest risk to public health”.
The simplest form of infection is thought to come from colonies of Rosettus bats or fruit bats. Then, between people, the pathology spreads through direct contact with damaged skin, mucous membranes with blood and other body fluids. In the case of toilets, we have seen cases where more serious illnesses occur, a faster evolution and a higher mortality rate.
To treat this disease, there is currently no approved treatment or vaccine, although rehydration therapy, oral or intravenous, as well as medication for symptoms are recommended and improve survival. In addition, monoclonal and antiviral antibodies used against Ebola are being studied for which “compassionate use could be tested”, specifies the WHO.