WORLD | May 8, 2023

18 die from Marburg virus disease outbreak in Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania

/ Our Today

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Preliminary findings of two Marburg virus cases have prompted Ghana to prepare for a potential outbreak of the disease. If confirmed, these would the first such infections recorded in the country, and only the second in West Africa. Marburg is a highly infectious viral haemorrhagic fever in the same family as the more well-known Ebola virus disease.

The outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD) in Equatorial Guinea and the United Republic of Tanzania has resulted in the deaths of 18 people collectively.

The announcement was made by the World Health Organization (WHO) In a release today (May 8), where the organization shared that both countries have been responding to separate outbreaks of MVD. 

Marburg is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces and materials. Illness begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache and malaise. Many patients develop severe haemorrhagic signs within seven days.

In Equatorial Guinea, from February 13 to May 1 2023, they had 17 laboratory-confirmed MVD cases and 23 probable cases have been reported. The last confirmed case was reported on 20 April. Among the laboratory-confirmed cases, there are 12 deaths (Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) 75%).For one confirmed case, the outcome is unknown. Among the confirmed cases, four have recovered. All of the probable cases are dead.

A health worker in protective clothing carries waste for disposal outside the isolation ward where victims of the deadly Marburg virus are treated in the northern Angolan town of Uige. (File Photo: REUTERS)

The most affected district in Equatorial Guinea is Bata in the Litoral province, with 11 laboratory-confirmed MVD cases reported. 

In the United Republic of Tanzania, between 16 March to 30 April 2023, a cumulative total of nine cases including eight laboratory-confirmed cases and one probable case have been reported. The last confirmed case was reported on 11 April 2023. A total of six deaths (CFR 66.7%) have been reported, including one probable case and five among the confirmed cases. Among the confirmed cases, three have recovered.

All cases have been reported from Bukoba district, Kagera region. 

The WHO said “Health authorities in both countries have shown strong political commitment. In recent weeks they have further strengthened critical response functions, such as disease surveillance, including at points of entry; laboratory activities; clinical case management; infection prevention and control; risk communication and community engagement; and operations support and logistics with support of WHO and partners.”

WHO also said that they will continue to monitor the situation in both countries closely and to support the responses.


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