The World Health Organization reports that two people in Ghana who later died have tested positive for the Marburg virus, which causes a highly infectious disease similar to Ebola. There is no cure for this virus, and in 80% of cases people fail to survive. So far, this virus is only in West Africa, but who knows where it can get next.
Initial tests in Ghana came back positive, but those results must be re-analysed by a lab in Senegal for cases to be considered confirmed, the WHO said in a statement on Thursday.
The highly contagious pathogen has previously been touted as the next big pandemic threat, with the WHO describing it as “epidemic prone”.
Infected patients become “ghosts” and often have deep-set eyes and featureless faces. This is usually accompanied by bleeding from multiple openings, including the nose, gums, and eyes. Dr. Francis Casolo, WHO Representative in Ghana, says:
“Health authorities are on the ground, studying the situation and preparing for a possible outbreak response. We are working closely with the country to step up detection, trace contacts, be ready to control the spread of the virus.”
The statement said two patients in the southern Ashanti region had symptoms including diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting before they died in hospital.
If cases are confirmed, this will only be the second outbreak of Marburg in West Africa. The first ever case of the virus was discovered last year in Guinea, with no new cases identified.
“Preparations for a possible outbreak response are proceeding rapidly as further investigations are underway,” the WHO said.
There have been about a dozen major outbreaks of Marburg fever since 1967, mostly in southern and eastern Africa.
The Marburg virus is less well understood than its better-known relative Ebola, but both viruses share similarities. Marburg virus is usually associated with exposure to caves or mines in which colonies of Rousettus bats live. Infection occurs through body fluids, and the incubation period can last from 5 to 21 days. Severe hemorrhagic signs appear seven days after the onset of symptoms, and there are currently no treatments, vaccines, or antivirals for this pathogen.
The disease begins suddenly, with high fever, severe headache and discomfort.
The mortality rate has ranged from 24 to 88 percent in past outbreaks, depending on the virus strain and case management, according to the WHO.
Although there are no approved vaccines or antivirals, oral or intravenous rehydration and treatment of specific symptoms improves survival, the report said.
A deadly African virus combined with monkeypox
The Marburg virus did not appear in the world yesterday, so one or two cases from time to time are not out of the ordinary.
Since its first appearance in the German city of Marburg in 1967, there have been little more than a dozen outbreaks of this deadly infection. The worst outbreak occurred in 2004/05 in Angola. By the time the outbreak was under control, 252 people had been infected and 90 percent of them had eventually died.
However, the time is now such that even monkeypox, which was not previously transmitted to people, appeared around the world and so far it is spreading according to the following calculations: on July 10 there will be 12,000, on July 20 there will be 24,000, on August 1- 50,000, and so on:
Bill Gates warned about smallpox as the next pandemic, and his warning came true. And as for Marburg being the next pandemic, there was a warning from Tedros Gebreisus. And here you are.