first two confirmed cases in Ghana

A WHO doctor takes an oral sample from a patient, suspected of having Marburg hemorrhagic fever, in Kinguangua, DRC, May 6, 2005. CHRISTOPHER BLACK / WHO / AFP

This is the first time that this hemorrhagic fever, as deadly as Ebola, has been recorded in the country. 98 contact cases have been placed in quarantine.

Two cases of contamination with the Marburg virus, a hemorrhagic fever as deadly as Ebola, were recorded in Ghana at the beginning of July, health authorities announced on Sunday July 17.

The two unrelated patients had various symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting, according to the African branch of the World Health Organization (WHO). “This is the first time that Ghana has confirmed [la prĂ©sence] Marburg virussaid Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director General of the Ghana Health Service in a statement.

Both patients died

Blood samples were taken from the patients in the district hospital of the Ashanti region (South) on July 8. The samples were then sent to the Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IDP) for confirmation. “Additional testing at the IDP corroborated the resultssaid Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye. If the symptoms of the patients did not worry the doctors at the start, because they were similar to acute gastroenteritis, the state of emergency was declared when the first patient died, followed 48 hours later by the second.

No other cases have been detected so far, but 98 people identified as contact cases have been placed in quarantine. “Health authorities reacted quickly, getting a head start in preparing for a possible outbreak. This is a good thing because without immediate and decisive action, the Marburg can easily spiral out of control.said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

A highly contagious virus

Marburg virus disease is difficult to identify because the symptoms are similar to those of other tropical diseases, such as Ebola or malaria. It usually begins suddenly with high fever, intense headaches and possible malaise. Body aches, diarrhea, and blood in the stool may also be present.

The WHO has expressed concern over this highly contagious virus which is transmitted to humans by fruit bats, and is spread to humans by direct contact through bodily fluids such as blood, semen or urine, or via infected surfaces and materials.

Case fatality rates range from 24% to 88% during these outbreaks, depending on the virus strain and case management, according to the WHO. Although there are no vaccines or approved antiviral treatments yet to treat the virus, oral or intravenous rehydration and treatment for specific symptoms improves survival rates.

A virus already present in Africa

This is the second time that this disease has struck the African continent. The WHO announced on September 16, 2021 the end of the first episode of the Marburg virus in West Africa, 42 days after the identification of cases in Guinea. The patient had contracted the virus and died of it in August of the same year. Sporadic outbreaks and cases had in the past been reported elsewhere in Africa, including South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The origin of this disease dates back to the 1960s, when it was discovered in Marburg, Germany. Researchers had suddenly fallen ill while working on a vaccine based on monkey cells. They are now considered to be the first infected with the Marburg virus.


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