Marburg Virus Outbreak: 5 Things you must know
In recent times, the world has been ravaged with series of disease outbreaks from Ebola to Monkey pox to Corona virus. While the world, especially West Africa, is still grappling with the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that there is yet another deadly virus spreading fast in Ghana – the Marburg Virus Disease.
Early in the month of July 2022, it was reported by Ghana Health Service that two different men in the southern Ashanti region of the county have died after testing positive for Marburg. Even though Ghana just announced its first outbreak, African countries like Angola (2004), Uganda (2017) and Guinea (2021) have experienced the Marburg Virus epidemic. The virus was first discovered in 1967 in Germany and Serbia. Human infection can be traced to the prolonged exposure of mine workers to Rousettus fruit bats that inhabit the mines and caves.
The Marburg virus disease has been described as highly infectious. Although there has not been a single case of Marburg reported in Nigeria yet, the National Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) states that it is on a high alert and hard on preventive measures to avoid a possible outbreak. This is an essential move considering the close proximity of both countries.
In this article, we have put together the necessary information you need to know about the Marburg Virus Disease in order to get equipped with the right knowledge as well as protect yourself from infection.
Marburg is an acute and very contagious viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF). The term, ‘viral hemorrhagic fever’ means a condition that affects several organ systems in the body, and can be accompanied by hemorrhage (bleeding).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Marburg virus disease is a rare but severe hemorrhagic fever which affects both people and non-human pirates… It is a genetically unique virus of the filovirus family of which the Ebola virus is a part of.”
Symptoms of Marburg virus takes between 2 to 21 days to manifest. Persons infected with Marburg virus can show some or all of these signs:
Like earlier stated, the Marburg virus is highly infectious. It can be transmitted through fruit bats and can easily spread from one person to the other through close contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person. The blood could be from open wound and body fluids could be in the form of sweat, urine, saliva, feaces, breast milk, semen or even surfaces contaminated with these fluids. Apart from fruit bats and infected persons, be aware that none human pirates like infected monkeys can equally transmit the virus to uninfected persons.
Also note that a person who died from Marburg virus can infect another person who comes in direct contact with him or her. This is very important to keep in mind because the people at the highest risk of infection are usually healthcare providers who care for Marburg infected patients and their family members during care or burial.
The following preventive measures can help you prevent infection as well as curb the spread of Marburg:
There is no exact treatment option for Marburg. Supportive care is usually used to improve the infected patients’ chances of survival. Some of this supportive care includes maintaining the patient’s blood pressure, rehydration and replacing lost blood.
There is currently no vaccine for Marburg virus disease neither is there an antiviral treatment option. So, it is absolutely critical that you protect yourself from being infected.
Although, Marburg virus disease is a dangerous one but being infected is not always the end of the world. Once detected early, supportive care and further transmission prevention are the most effective interventions.
The good news is that scientists are tirelessly working towards developing a vaccine or cure for Marburg virus as there is currently a range of drug therapies, immune therapies and blood products under testing and review.
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