Health authorities in Guinea have confirmed West Africa’s first case of the Marburg virus, a highly infectious disease that’s in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola.
Marburg was detected less than two months after Guinea declared an end to an Ebola outbreak that erupted earlier this year.
Samples taken from a now-deceased patient and tested by a field laboratory in Gueckedou as well as Guinea’s national haemorrhagic fever laboratory turned out positive for the Marburg virus. Further analysis by the Institut Pasteur in Senegal confirmed the result.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has however said the virus needs to be “stopped in its tracks”.
“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.”
Gueckedou, where Marburg has been confirmed, is also the same region where cases of the 2021 Ebola outbreak in Guinea as well as the 2014–2016 West Africa outbreak were initially detected.
Efforts are underway to find the people who may have been in contact with the patient. 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.
An initial team of 10 WHO experts, including epidemiologists and socio-anthropologists, is on the ground helping to investigate the case and supporting the national health authorities to swiftly step up emergency response, including risk assessment, disease surveillance, community mobilization, testing, clinical care, infection prevention as well as logistical support.
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