GHANA – Ghana has initiated public health interventions in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) to manage Marburg virus disease after the first-ever outbreak was recorded in the southern Ashanti region.

The WHO Collaborating Centre laboratory situated at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar in Senegal has confirmed that samples taken from two patients by the Ghana’s Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research were positive for Marburg virus disease.

According to WHO, one case was a 26-year-old male who checked into a hospital on 26th June 2022 and died on 27th June 2022 while the second case was a 51 -year-old male who reported to the hospital on 28 June and died on the same day.

The samples were sent to the Institut Pasteur in Senegal for confirmation as per standard procedure after the two patients from the southern Ashanti region presenting with diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting died.

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, as well as candidate vaccines with phase 1 data are being evaluated

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.

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

Ghana’s health authorities have developed public health responses to contain the highly infectious disease such as deploying experts, making available personal protective equipment, bolstering disease surveillance, testing and tracing contacts.

In addition, the health authorities are also working with communities to alert and educate them about the risks and dangers of the Marburg virus disease while more than 90 contacts including health workers and community members have been identified and are being monitored.

Health authorities have responded swiftly, getting a head start preparing for a possible outbreak. This is good because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

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 has reached out to neighboring high-risk countries and they are on alert and the body is marshalling more resources for the outbreak response, it is only the second time the zoonotic disease has been detected in West Africa.

Additionally, the World Health Organization has been supporting a joint national investigative team in the Ashanti region, collaborating with the emergency response teams and a team of WHO experts will be deployed to the region to provide coordination, risk assessment and infection prevention measures.

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