GHANA – Ghana has announced that preliminary analysis of samples taken from two patients by the country’s Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research indicated that the cases were positive for Marburg virus disease.

The country also sent the samples to the Institut Pasteur in Senegal, a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre, for confirmation as per standard procedure after two patients from the southern Ashanti region presenting with diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting recently died.

Marburg virus disease is a highly infectious viral hemorrhagic fever that is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces and materials.

The early sign of the Marburg, which is in the same family as Ebola, include high fever, severe headache and malaise. Many patients develop severe hemorrhagic signs within seven days while case fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management.

Although there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus, supportive care – rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids – and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival. A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies, are being evaluated

Subsequently, the Ghanaian Government is working closely with the World Health Organization to set up necessary preparations for a possible outbreak response as further investigations are underway in an effort to avert a possible spill-over of the Marburg virus.

WHO Representative in Ghana Dr Francis Kasolo said health authorities are on the ground investigating the situation and preparing for a possible outbreak response, adding that the health body is collaborating with Ghana to ramp up detection and track contacts for infection control and prevention.

WHO confirmed that the body is deploying experts to support Ghana’s health authorities by bolstering disease surveillance, testing, tracing contacts, preparing to treat patients and working with communities to alert and educate them about the disease and to collaborate with the emergency response teams.

If confirmed, the cases in Ghana would mark the second time Marburg has been detected in West Africa. Guinea confirmed a single case in an outbreak that was declared over on 16 September 2021, five weeks after the initial case was detected,” WHO reports.

According to the World Health Organization, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases of Marburg virus disease in Africa have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.

The international public health agency announced that the disease was detected in southern Guinea, the same region where the initial cases of the February-June Ebola 2021 outbreak as well as the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak were detected.

Guinea declared the end of the Marburg virus disease outbreak in September 2021 having recorded no new cases over the period of 42 days, two incubation periods, or the time elapsed between infection and the onset of symptoms.

Guinea’s health authorities partnered with WHO to promptly mount emergency response, deploy expert teams to carry out further investigations, step up disease surveillance, assess the risks and bolster community mobilization, testing, clinical care as well as infection prevention and control measures.

Although there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus, supportive care involving rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids and treatment of specific symptoms improves survival, WHO highlights.

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