Guinea confirms West Africa’s first case of rare but deadly Marburg virus

Guinea confirms West Africa’s first case of rare but deadly Marburg virus after a patient infected with the highly infectious Marburg virus died in Guinea, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) statement on Monday. It’s the first known case of the Ebola-like virus in West Africa.

Samples of the virus were taken from the patient in Gueckedou (Guéckédou or Guékédou) town, in the southern part of Guinea. The detection of the deady Marburg virus comes less than two months after Guinea declared an end to its most recent Ebola outbreak.

Gueckedou is also where the 2021 Ebola outbreak in Guinea occured

"Gueckedou, where Marburg has been confirmed, is also the same region where cases of the 2021 Ebola outbreak in Guinea as well as the 2014–2016 West Africa outbreak were initially detected," according to the WHO statement.

"Samples taken from a now-deceased patient and tested by a field laboratory in Gueckedou as well as Guinea’s national haemorrhagic fever laboratory turned out positive for the Marburg virus. Further analysis by the Institut Pasteur in Senegal confirmed the result."

Health authorities on Monday embarked on contact tracing in an attempt to find people who may have had contact with the patient. They also launched a public education campaign to help reduce the spread of infection.

An initial response team of 10 WHO experts are on the ground to probe the case and support Guinea’s emergency response.

"We applaud the alertness and the quick investigative action by Guinea’s health workers. The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks," Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in the statement.

Marburg is transmitted from bats

According to WHO, Marburg virus disease is a highly virulent disease that causes haemorrhagic fever, with a fatality ratio of up to 88%. It is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola virus disease. The virus is transmitted to humans from Rousettus bats and can then be spread human-to-human through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people or surfaces and materials contaminated with these fluids.

There is no vaccine, cure or antiviral treatment against Marburg. There are only treatments for specific symptoms that can improve patients’ chances for survival.

"Case fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management," the statement said.

"In Africa, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda."

Marburg virus was first discovered in 1967, when 31 people became sick in Frankfurt, Germany, and in Belgrade, Serbia. The outbreak was eventually traced back to laboratory monkeys imported from Uganda. Since then the virus has appeared sporadically. 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.

Many of those cases involved only one diagnosed case.
Marburg virus causes symptoms similar to Ebola, beginning with fever and weakness and often leading to internal or external bleeding, organ failure and death.

Sydney Chako

Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics teacher at Sytech Learning Academy. From Junior Secondary School to Tertiary Level Engineering Mathematics and Engineering Science.

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