What you need to know about the dreaded Marburg virus disease | Health info

As cases are being reported in Ghana, here is an overview of the disease, its symptoms and ways to prevent the disease.

Ghana health authorities have officially confirmed two cases of the highly infectious Marburg virus in the country, after two people after two people who later died tested positive for the virus on July 10.

A total of 98 people identified as contact cases are currently under quarantine, the Ghana Health Service said, noting that no other cases of Marburg had yet been detected in the country.

In Africa, previous outbreaks have been reported in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Other outbreaks have also been reported in Europe and the United States.

Here’s what we know about the disease.

What is Marburg virus disease (MVD)?

According to the CDC, Marburg virus disease is a severe hemorrhagic fever caused by the Marburg virus.

First identified in 1967 in Germany and what was then Yugoslavia after research on imported African green monkeys, Marburg virus is in the same family as Ebola.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), infection with the viral disease “results initially from prolonged exposure to mines or caves inhabited by colonies of Rousettus bats”.

Once an individual is infected, the disease can spread through human-to-human transmission, and this can occur through direct contact with the blood, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected people and through already contaminated surfaces and materials. by these fluids. .

What are the symptoms?

Illness caused by the virus begins abruptly and, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), after an incubation period of two to 21 days, symptoms are marked by:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches and pains

The CDC said a larger rash on the chest, back, and stomach may occur after symptoms appear.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Sore throat
  • Abdominal pain
  • And diarrhea may also appear.

The WHO says patients can develop severe bleeding manifestations within seven days, and fatal cases usually present with bleeding, often from multiple areas.

During the severe phase, patients present with high and sustained fevers. The patient may also show confusion, irritability and aggression.

In fatal cases, death can occur between 8 and 9 days after onset, usually preceded by severe blood loss and shock, the WHO said.

Mortality rates have ranged from 24 to 88% in past outbreaks depending on viral strain and case management.

The virus is also known to persist in some people who have recovered, and it can be found in the testicles and inside the eye. In women who may have been infected during pregnancy, the virus may persist in the placenta and fetus.

How can it be treated?

According to the WHO, there is no proven cure for MVD. However, there is supportive care and treatment for specific symptoms.

Supportive care includes rehydration with oral and intravenous fluids, and a range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies, are currently being evaluated.

Samples taken from patients are considered an “extreme biohazard” and laboratory tests “should be performed under maximum biocontainment conditions”.

Is there a way to prevent infection?

According to GAVI, to prevent infection, “extremely strict infection control measures are needed” to prevent people from coming into contact with each other.

It is also important to avoid eating or handling bushmeat to avoid spread by animals, and sensitization of communities and health workers is essential as this can lead to better precautions against the spread.

The WHO also advises male survivors to practice safe sex and hygiene for 12 months from the onset of symptoms or until semen tests negative for the virus.

And for healthcare workers, the WHO recommends wearing appropriate gloves and personal protective equipment when caring for patients.

The WHO has also recommended precautionary measures in pig farms to prevent them from becoming infected through contact with fruit bats. The UN agency said they could be potential hosts for amplification during outbreaks.

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