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Deadly Marburg virus confirmed in Ghana

The first two cases of the deadly Marburg virus, originating from the same family as the infamous Ebola, have been confirmed in Ghana.

As reported by BBC, Ghana said both patients had died recently in hospital in the southern Ashanti region. Samples acquired from the individuals earlier this month showed they tested positive. A Senegalese laboratory verified the results.

The number of people ​​quarantined in Ghana now amounts to 98. Among them are relatives, medics and mortuary workers who came into contact with the two patients.

The first case of the Marbug virus in West Africa was first identified in Guinea last year. However, the outbreak was declared over in September, only five weeks from the case’s discovery.

Ghana’s swift response was praised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“This is good because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa director.

“There’s a whole multi-disciplinary team in the field trying to ensure that we are able to unearth the real source of this,” Dr Patrick Kumah-Aboagye, the head of Ghana’s health service told BBC Focus on Africa radio.

The West African country rolled out contact tracing procedures and strict infection control measures in order to curtail the virus spread. Teams are being dispatched into communities to sensitise them to the symptoms and to ensure they alert health authorities if any suspected cases emerge.

#Ghana 🇬🇭 anounces country’s 1rst outbreak of Marburg virus disease, after a @WHO Collaborating Centre lab confirms earlier results. WHO is supporting Ghana by deploying experts, providing PPEs, bolstering disease surveillance, working w. communities ➡️

— WHO African Region (@WHOAFRO) July 17, 2022

Guess who’s bat

Reportedly, the virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads between humans through the transmission of bodily fluids. As they are the most exposed to individuals who contracted the disease, family members and hospital staff are at the highest risk of getting infected.

The disease caused by the virus manifests in a severe way with often fatal consequences with symptoms ranging from headache, fever, muscle pains, vomiting blood to bleeding.

People in Ghana were warned by officials to steer clear of caves and to thoroughly cook all meat products before eating them.

Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported outside of West Africa, namely in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, the WHO stressed, adding that the virus brought about the death of more than 200 people in Angola in 2005, the deadliest outbreak on record according to the global health body.

Historically, the first-ever Marburg outbreak was confirmed in Germany in 1967 where seven people died.

There is no treatment for Marburg to date, albeit doctors encourage drinking plenty of water and treating specific symptoms as means of improving a patient’s chances of survival.

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