Marburg virus

Ghana has declared an outbreak of Marburg disease after two people died from the highly infectious virus, which belongs to the same Ebola family.

The patients, two unrelated men aged 26 and 51, developed diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting and died shortly after admission to hospital, although they were in contact with at least 90 people, including health workers and community members, from whom they are monitored.

What is the Marburg virus?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)Marburg is a highly contagious viral hemorrhagic fever, belonging, like Ebola, to the Filoviridae family, which is why they cause diseases with similar clinical characteristics.

Although this is the second time this zoonotic disease has been detected in West Africa, as previous outbreaks have occurred in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, the agency sanitary alerted neighboring countries of the high level risk of contagion.

How does it spread?

The disease is transmitted to humans by fruit bats and is spread between humans through direct contact with blood (through wounds or mucous membranes), secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, in addition to friction with surfaces and materials contaminated by said fluids. Indeed, a funeral ceremony during which there is direct contact with the corpse can transmit the virus.

On the other hand, the symptoms vary depending on the day of infection, as they begin abruptly with high fever, severe headache and general malaise, however, on the third day, abdominal pain and cramps appear, a severe watery diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, causing the “ghost look” due to sunken eyes, lack of facial expression, and extreme lethargy.

From the fifth day, patients generally present with severe hemorrhagic manifestations and an affectation of the central nervous system with attacks of irritability, aggressiveness or confusion. In the most severe cases, death usually occurs on the eighth or ninth day after the onset of symptoms.

No vaccines or treatment

There are currently no approved vaccines or antiviral treatments to treat zoonotic diseases, however, rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids and attention to specific symptoms improves survival. For its part, the WHO is working on the development of blood products, drugs, immunotherapies and vaccine candidates with phase 1 data.

Detecting the virus can be difficult, as it must be distinguished from other infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, shigellosis, meningitis and other viral hemorrhagic fevers. Therefore, laboratory diagnostic methods such as PCR and antigen tests should be used, however, their high risk of contagion justifies maximum biocontainment measures and the packaging of samples with the “triple packaging system”.

prevention method

Prevention measures consist of surveillance and contact tracing, quality of laboratory services, safe burials and social mobilization. In addition to thoroughly cooking all animal products that contain blood and meat, constantly washing hands after visiting hospitalized patients and finally, according to the WHO recommendation, convalescing men should apply protective methods in sexual relations and maintain good hygiene for 12 months after the onset of symptoms or until semen tests are twice negative for Marburg virus. @worldwide

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