Facts About the Marburg Virus

What exactly is the Marburg virus, and where did it originate?

The Marburg Virus Disease (MVD), formerly known as Marburg haemorrhagic fever, is caused by the Marburg virus. The virus, which is related to the Ebola virus, causes severe viral hemorrhagic fever in humans, with a case fatality rate of around 50%. Depending on the virus strain and case management, it ranged from 24 to 88 percent in different outbreaks.

It was first reported in 1967 in the German town of Marburg and in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). Both cities experienced outbreaks at the same time. It was derived from monkeys imported from Uganda for laboratory research in Marburg. The laboratory staff became infected as a result of working with monkey materials (blood, tissues, and cells). Seven people died as a result of the 31 cases associated with these outbreaks. Since then, most outbreaks have been found in eastern and southern Africa

A Marburg Virus test result.

How is it spread?

According to the WHO, the virus is transmitted to humans by fruit bats and can then spread from person to person via body fluids, including contaminated clothing or surfaces. It can also spread through contact with infected host or reservoir materials (fluids, blood, tissues, and cells).

What are the signs and symptoms?

After an incubation period of 2 to 21 days, the disease manifests itself as fever, chills, headache, and myalgia. Around the fifth day after the onset of symptoms, a maculopapular rash may appear, most prominent on the trunk (chest, back, and stomach). Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, a sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea are all possible symptoms. Jaundice, pancreatic inflammation, severe weight loss, delirium, shock, liver failure, massive hemorrhaging, and multi-organ dysfunction are all possible symptoms. The WHO had said it can be difficult to identify because early symptoms are similar to those of many other tropical febrile diseases such as Ebola, malaria, and typhoid.

Is it treatable?

According to the WHO, there are no approved vaccines or antiviral treatments for MVD. Patients have a better chance of survival if specific symptoms are treated and supportive care, such as rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, is provided. Blood products, immune therapies, and drug therapies are among the treatments being studied.

What should be done to prevent the virus from spreading?

Given the number of cases in Ghana, it’s time to be cautious. A thorough screening is required. Arrivals from Ghana and other West African countries are subject to inspection at ports of entry. Unfortunately, no one appears to be thinking about it right now. The attitude appears to be: oh, only two cases in Ghana. However, I believe now is the best time to be on the lookout at ports of entry, particularly for people from countries where cases have been reported. Studies conducted in Nigeria in the 1980s and more recently in the 1990s show that certain Nigerian populations may have previously been infected with Marburg virus – or a related virus.

Where has it been discovered?

In the most recent outbreak, no cases of MVD were found outside of Africa. The two people who died from the disease were in Ghana’s Ashanti region, the country’s most populous region. The cases were not found to be epidemiologically linked, and they had no contact with animals, sick people, or social gatherings, according to the WHO. More than 100 close contacts were identified, including health care workers and close relatives, but no one later tested positive.

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