First confirmed cases of Marburg virus in Ghana

It is confirmed: the Marburg virus is circulating again in Africa, while two cases have just been identified in Ghana. This hemorrhagic fever, as deadly as Ebola, has reached a mortality rate of up to 88% during recent epidemics.

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The Ebola virus acts spectacularly. The infection causes an acute viral haemorrhagic fever which kills in nearly 90% of cases. We met Jean-François Saluzzo, virologist with the WHO, so that he could tell us about the conditions of transmission and the symptoms linked to this virus originating in Africa.

At the beginning of July, two cases of suspected patients were discovered in Ghana. They presented the symptoms of one gastroenteritis acute. Samples were then sent to the Pasteur Institute in Dakar to identify the virus origin of these two cases. The results were communicated by the Ghanaian authorities this Sunday: they are the marburg-virus which is resurfacing after a year without an epidemic.

With symptoms similar to those of Ebola virusthis fever haemorrhagic disease causes dazzling and often fatal symptoms. It all starts with a high fever and intense headaches. Abdominal cramps and diarrhea with blood in the stool for which the main risk is dehydration. There is no specific treatment, but rehydration, whether oral or intravenous, improves survival rates.

Several epidemics since 1967

This is not the first time that an epidemic of marburg-virus occurs. First identified in 1967 in Germany, it came at that time from experiments carried out on monkeys imported from Uganda. More precisely, the virus is originally carried by bats frugivorous, without them developing the disease. They then transmit the virus either directly to humans or to other wild animals which then infect the humans with whom they come into contact.

For many epidemics sporadic cases have been reported, with a case fatality rate between 24 and 88% depending on the viral strain and the management of the cases, explains the WHO. Until 2021, the epidemics took place either in Germany for the first, or in eastern or southern Africa. But a case was identified in Guinea in August 2021, which fortunately remained unique. Today, Ghana is concerned about the two cases detected, and informed in a press release that the 98 people case contacts are currently in quarantine, and none have so far developed symptoms of Marburg virus disease.

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