The World Health Organisation has reported two suspected cases of Marburg Virus Disease in Ghana which, if confirmed, would be first recorded in the West African country.
This is coming as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has raised the alarm over 880 fresh COVID-19 infections reported in Nigeria from July 2 to 8, though with no fatalities.
Marburg Virus Disease, formerly known as Marburg haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The disease, which is in the same family as Ebola, the more well-known virus disease, was initially detected in 1967 after simultaneous outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany; and in Belgrade, Serbia. MVD causes severe viral haemorrhagic fever in humans and is highly infectious.
A statement from WHO noted that a preliminary analysis of samples taken from two patients by the country’s Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research indicated that the cases were positive for Marburg. However, the samples have been sent to the Institut Pasteur in Senegal, a WHO Collaborating Centre for confirmation.
Reports indicated that the two patients from the southern Ashanti region – both deceased and unrelated – showed symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting. They had been taken to a district hospital in the Ashanti region.
The WHO statement further disclosed that preparations for a possible outbreak response were being set up swiftly as further investigations are underway.
“The health authorities are on the ground investigating the situation and preparing for possible outbreak response. We are working closely with the country to ramp up detection, track contacts, and be ready to control the spread of the virus,” said WHO Representative in Ghana, Dr Francis Kasolo.
WHO is deploying experts to support Ghana’s health authorities by bolstering disease surveillance, testing, tracing contacts, preparing to treat patients and working with communities to alert and educate them about the risks and dangers of the disease and to collaborate with the emergency response teams.
If confirmed, the cases in Ghana would mark the second time Marburg has been detected in West Africa. Guinea confirmed a single case in an outbreak that was declared over on 16 September 2021, five weeks after the initial case was detected.
Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases of Marburg in Africa have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.
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.
Marburg virus is the causative agent of MVD, with a case fatality ratio of up to 88 per cent, but can be much lower with good patient care. Specifically, while the average MVD case fatality rate is around 50 per cent, case fatality rates have varied from 24 per cent to 88 per cent in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management.
Although there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus, supportive care – rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids – and treatment of specific symptoms, improve survival. A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies, are being evaluated.
In a related development, the NCDC has raised the alarm over 880 fresh COVID-19 infections reported in Nigeria from July 2 to 8, though with no fatalities.
The NCDC disclosed via its official website Saturday, that the country’s commercial capital city, Lagos State, was driving the nation’s latest COVID-19 surge.
Lagos State, the epicentre of the virus, accounted for more than 90 per cent of the new infections with 750 cases.
The data showed that the new cases had raised Nigeria’s infection toll to 258,517, while the fatality toll stood at 3, 144.
The public health agency stated that about 4,206 people were still down with the virus while a total of 250,388 people were successfully treated and discharged so far in the country since the outbreak in February 2020.
Apart from Lagos State, a further breakdown of the latest cases showed that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) recorded 45 cases, followed by Rivers with 40 infections.
Delta reported 11 cases, followed by Akwa Ibom – 11, Kano – five, Nasarawa – four and Plateau – one.
The agency said that three states: Abia, Kaduna, and Sokoto reported no cases within the time frame.
The NCDC asked religious organisations, community leaders, and Nigerians, in general, to take necessary precautions during the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.
It added that the number of weekly COVID-19 cases had increased globally for the third consecutive week.
The agency said that COVID-19 might cause severe complications in the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.
“Take extra precautions to stay safe and avoid crowded places.
“Maintain distance from anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, and wash your hands regularly,” it advised.