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WHO confirms Marburg virus infection in Ghana – Report

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed on Thursday that two people in Ghana have been infected by the highly virulent Marburg virus, the Reuters news agency has reported.

The two people infected with the virus similar to the Ebola virus have since died. The infection occurred somewhere in the Ashanti Region. The tests were first done in Ghana, but must be re-tested in a laboratory in Senegal, before the cases can be confirmed, the WHO has said in a statement cited in the report.

The WHO describes the Marburg virus disease as a highly virulent disease that causes haemorrhagic fever, with a fatality ratio of up to 88 per cent.

“It is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola virus disease. Two large outbreaks that occurred simultaneously in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, and in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1967, led to the initial recognition of the disease. The outbreak was associated with laboratory work using African green monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) imported from Uganda. Subsequently, outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa (in a person with recent travel history to Zimbabwe) and Uganda. In 2008, two independent cases were reported in travellers who visited a cave inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies in Uganda,” it says on its website.

The two patients both had symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting before they died in hospital, the statement said.

If the cases come back confirmed, it would be only the second Marburg outbreak in West Africa. The first case of the virus was reported in Guinea last year, and no further cases have been reported, it said.

The Ghana Health Service has also confirmed the cases in a statement saying “the disease was suspected following the identification of two persons who met the case definition for an Acute Hemorrhage Fever in two locations in the Asanti Region.”

It also noted that the initial tests were done at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Accra, adding that the samples have further been sent to the Institute Pasteur in Dakar for confirmation.

It also indicated that no other cases have been identified, but all the 34 persons who came into contact with the two cases have been isolated and quarantined and are being observed and monitored, adding that there are currently no vaccines for the diseases.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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