[ODUNEWS] July 18 – Ghana has reported two cases of the highly infectious Marburg virus, the World Health Organization said, making it the first-ever outbreak of the disease in the West African nation.
The intergovernmental health body announced Ghana had declared the outbreak Sunday in a statement after the WHO’s Collaborating Center laboratory confirmed its results.
According to the WHO, the samples were taken from two deceased and unrelated patients from the southern Ashanti region who exhibited symptoms of the disease, including diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting.
The cases were identified as a 26-year-old man who died June 27, a day after checking into the hospital, and a 51-year-old man who died June 28, the same day he entered the hospital. Both patients had sought medical treatment at the same facility, it said.
“Health authorities have responded swiftly, getting a head start preparing for a possible outbreak,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. “This is good because, without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand.”
Marburg is a rare but severe hemorrhagic fever that is related to Ebola and was first recognized in Germany and Yugoslavia, which is now Serbia, in 1967, resulting in more than 31 infections, including seven deaths, during that first outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention.
The zoonotic virus transfers to humans from infected host animals, including monkeys, chimps and fruit bats, via blood and waste products, such as feces, the Mayo Clinic said, adding that after the initial transmission, the virus spreads between people through body fluids.
Ghana’s outbreak is only the second time one has been detected in West Africa after Guinea confirmed a single case in an outbreak that lasted only five weeks last fall.
Other outbreaks have occurred in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya South Africa and Uganda.
Based on previous outbreaks, the virus has a fatality rate anywhere between 24% and 88%, the WHO said.
“Although there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus, supportive care — rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids — and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival,” it said.