GHANA – Ghana has declared the end of the Marburg virus disease outbreak after the first-ever outbreak was recorded in the southern Ashanti region nearly two months ago.
The development comes after no new cases had been reported over the past 42 days or two incubation periods, precisely the time between infection and the onset of symptoms.
Ghana’s battle with Marburg dates back to July when laboratory tests confirmed that the virus had affected the country’s Ashanti, Savannah and Western regions.
To avert a crisis, the Ghanaian Government stepped up its public health efforts and worked closely with WHO to put up necessary preparations for a possible Marburg virus disease outbreak.
Outbreak control measures were swiftly rolled out, disease surveillance stepped up, testing carried out, contact tracing activated, and public awareness campaigns initiated to support disease prevention efforts.
WHO also extended its efforts, supporting health authorities to carry out ecological studies to increase the understanding of the disease and help anticipate and prevent future outbreaks.
A total of 198 contacts were identified, monitored, and subjected to the recommended initial 21-day observation period, which was then extended for another 21 days out of an abundance of caution by the Ghanaian health authorities.
All these efforts helped Ghana successfully combat the disease and finally declare its total elimination from the accounts just two months after the first case was identified.
WHO highlighted that despite having no previous experience with the disease, Ghana’s response has been rapid and robust while noting that Marburg is a highly infectious disease in the same family as Ebola and has a high fatality rate of between 24% and 88%.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, noted that lives have been saved and people’s health protected thanks to an effective disease detection system that helped to quickly identify the virus and enabled prompt response to curb the spread of infection.
With the Marburg eradication exercise now a success, the WHO is warning against laxity in the country’s health system.
“Resurgence of Marburg can occur and WHO is working with Ghana’s health authorities to maintain surveillance and improve detection and response to potential flare-up of the virus,” the agency said.
The Marburg outbreak in Ghana was the second of its kind in West Africa. Guinea reported a single case in an outbreak that was declared over in September 2021.
In Africa, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.