Infectious Disease

Officials confirm first case of Marburg virus in West Africa

August 09, 2021

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Health officials in Guinea have confirmed the first case of the Marburg virus in West Africa, the WHO said.

The patient, who has since died, sought treatment at a local clinic in the Koundou area of ​​Guéckédou Prefecture, where a team of investigators had been dispatched to investigate his “worsening symptoms”, according to the WHO.

Samples taken from the patient tested positive in a field laboratory in Guéckédou and Guinea’s National Hemorrhagic Fever Laboratory, and the results were later confirmed by the Pasteur Institute in Senegal.

“We applaud the vigilance and rapid investigative action of Guinea health workers. Since the Marburg virus can spread far and wide, we have to stop it, ”says WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso guest, MD, MPH, said in a statement. “We are working with health authorities to implement a rapid response that builds on Guinea’s previous experience and expertise in dealing with Ebola, which is similarly transmitted.”

Efforts are being made to identify people who may have had contact with the patient, according to the WHO, and efforts are being made by local health authorities to raise awareness about the disease. Cross-border surveillance is also being stepped up to better identify cases and neighboring countries are on high alert, the WHO said.

The case was recorded near the borders of Libera and Sierra Leone, the other two countries at the center of the West African Ebola epidemic.

The Marburg virus is transmitted to humans by fruit bats. Like Ebola, which comes from the same family of viruses, it is transmitted between people through direct contact with body fluids or contaminated surfaces or materials.

The virus is named for Marburg, Germany, one of three cities – including Frankfurt, Germany, and Belgrade, Serbia – where the virus was first identified in 1967 during an outbreak among laboratory workers conducting experiments on African green monkeys.

Previous outbreaks have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, the WHO noted. Although a human case has never been detected in West Africa, researchers had identified the Marburg virus in West African bats for the first time in recent years.

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