Highly Infectious Virus Similar To Ebola Spreading In Africa, Kills 2 In Ghana

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Representation. A healthcare worker.

Cases of the fatal Ebola-like Marburg virus disease (MVD) have been detected in Ghana, authorities confirmed over the weekend as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an outbreak in the West African nation.

Two patients from Ghana’s southern Ashanti region who later died tested positive for Marburg virus on July 10, Reuters reported. Their results were verified by a laboratory in Senegal, Ghana Health Service (GHS) revealed in a statement Sunday, according to the outlet.

"Further testing at the Institute Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, has corroborated the results," the agency said in the statement.

The first case was a 26-year-old man who died on June 27, while the second was a 51-year-old man who died on the same day, The Washington Post reported, citing the WHO.

Both patients reportedly sought treatment at the same hospital.

Their causes of death were unclear, but they are believed to have died from the Marburg virus, according to the Daily Mail.

MVD, formerly known as Marburg hemorrhagic fever, is a severe illness with symptoms that include headache, fever, muscle pains and bleeding, among others, according to the WHO. Its fatality rate can vary from 24% all the way up to 88%.

The two Ghana patients experienced diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting before dying, the WHO said.

As both men were unrelated, it has been suggested that the disease is spreading more widely.

The Marburg virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads between humans through the transmission of bodily fluids and contact with contaminated surfaces, according to the WHO.

Ghana health officials said 98 people are now under quarantine as suspected contact cases.

GHS said it is working to reduce any risk of the virus spreading. All identified contacts have been isolated, and none of them have developed any symptoms so far, according to the agency.

"Health authorities have responded swiftly... This is good because, without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand," said WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.

"WHO is on the ground supporting health authorities and now that the outbreak is declared, we are marshaling more resources for the response," she added.

The current MVD outbreak in Ghana marks the second time the disease has been detected in West Africa. A single confirmed case was detected in Guinea in August last year.

Seven people died in the first MVD outbreak in Germany back in 1967. There have been a dozen major outbreaks ever since, mostly in southern and eastern Africa.

The deadliest outbreak on record happened in Angola in 2005, which killed more than 200 people, according to the WHO.


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Representation. The Marburg virus disease is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads between humans through the transmission of bodily fluids and contact with contaminated surfaces.
Photo: khw80/Pixabay

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