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Marburg Virus Outbreak: 5 Things you must know

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Marburg virus

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.

fruit bats in cave

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.

What is the Marburg Virus Disease?

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.” 

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Marburg Virus Disease?

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:

  1. Acute fever
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Muscle aches
  4. Bleeding  nose, eyes or gums
  5. Severe headache
  6. Nausea and vomiting
  7. Abdominal cramps
  8. Rashes on the chest or back
  9. Sore throat

How is Marburg Virus transmitted?

Marburg virus

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. 

READ: Monkeypox in Nigeria: 10 ways to protect yourself

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.

How can Marburg Virus be prevented?

The following preventive measures can help you prevent infection as well as curb the spread of Marburg:

  1. Avoid any direct physical contact with any person with hemorrhagic fever.
  2. Always put on your face/nose mask if you are in a crowded area.
  3. Thoroughly cook animal meat before consumption.
  4. If you are a hospital staff, always put on your protective kits when attended to a suspected (infected) person.
  5.  Always wash your hands with soap and apply hand sanitizer.        

READ: Hand Washing: How to wash your hands properly

Is there a Treatment for Marburg?

Marburg virus vaccine image

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.

RELATED: All you need to know about the new Omicron variant of COVID-19

What if I get infected after taking precaution?

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.

Medical Disclaimer: KompleteCare™ aims to improve the quality of life for everyone with fact-based content about the nature of diseases, preventive care, behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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Ginika is the Lead health writer at KompleteCare. She also doubles as an editor and proofreader for everything that concerns content. When she's not writing content for KompleteCare, you might find her copy-editing works for authors before publication.

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