Health authorities in Guinea and the World Health Organization have confirmed a case of Marburg virus disease in the southern Gueckedou prefecture.
This will be the first time Marburg, a highly infectious disease that causes hemorrhagic fever and in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola has been identified in the country and in West Africa.
The virus, which is carried by bats and has a fatality rate of up to 88 percent, was found in samples taken from a patient who died on August 2 in southern Gueckedou prefecture, the WHO said.
“We applaud the alertness and the quick investigative action by Guinea’s health workers.
“The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.
“We are working with the health authorities to implement a swift response that builds on Guinea’s past experience and expertise in managing Ebola, which is transmitted in a similar way.”
As the disease is appearing for the first time in the country, health authorities are launching public education and community mobilization to raise awareness and galvanize support to help curb widespread infection.
Also, efforts are underway to find the people who may have been in contact with the patient.
According to WHO, the Marburg virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats, and it spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces, and materials. Illness begins with a high fever, severe headache, and general discomfort.
Fatality rates have ranged from 24 percent to 88 percent in previous outbreaks, depending on the virus strain and case management, the WHO says.