GENEVA: Guinea has confirmed a case of Marburg disease, the World Health Organization said on Monday, adding that the first deadly virus in West Africa related to Ebola had been transmitted from hosts of animals to humans, such as Covid 19.
The WHO said the virus, which is transmitted by bats and has a mortality rate of up to 88 percent, was found in samples taken from a patient who died August 2 in South Gokido Prefecture.
“The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means that we need to stop it in its tracks,” said Dr. Matshediso Moti, WHO’s regional director for Africa.
The revelation comes just two months after the WHO announced the end of the second Ebola epidemic in Guinea, which began last year and killed 12 people.
In Geneva, the WHO said it considered the threat “high” nationally and regionally, but “low” globally.
“We are working with health authorities to implement a rapid response based on Guinea’s past experience and expertise in managing Ebola, which is how it is transmitted,” Moti said.
The Guinean government confirmed the Marburg case in a statement.
The Marburg virus is usually associated with exposure to cave or mine-dwelling colonies. According to the WHO, once a person is caught, it is spread through contact with infected people’s body fluids or contaminated surfaces and materials.
– Quick response –
“We appreciate the vigilance and prompt investigation of Guinean health workers,” Moti said.
The case was found in a forested village near the Sierra Leone and Liberian borders.
The WHO said the man’s symptoms were dated July 25.
The WHO said the patient died “in the community” after initial treatment at a local clinic and malaria tests.
Postmortem samples were then tested negative for Ebola, but positive for Marburg.
Ten WHO experts, including epidemiologists and social and anthropologists, are already in the field to assist national health officials.
Emergency response includes risk assessment, disease monitoring, community mobilization and screening, clinical care, infection control and logistical support, the WHO said.
He said that cross-border surveillance has also been intensified so that possible issues could be identified soon.
The WHO said three family members of the victims and a healthcare worker have been identified as high-risk close contacts and are being monitored, while the source of the infection and any other possible contacts have been identified. An investigation is underway.
Past epidemics and sporadic incidents have been reported in South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But this is the first time the virus has been detected in West Africa.
The disease starts suddenly with a high fever, severe headache and discomfort.
The WHO says the mortality rate ranges from 24% to 88%, depending on the strain of the virus and case management.
Although there is no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment, oral or internal rehydration and treatment of specific symptoms improves survival rates.