First Case Of Ebola-Like Virus Found In Guinea After Man Dies
The first case of an Ebola-like virus has been confirmed in West Africa after a patient sought medical attention and passed away of the disease.
The Marburg virus, which causes haemorrhagic fever disease, belongs to the same family as Ebola and spreads to humans from fruit bats, and between humans through bodily fluids from infected people, surfaces and materials.
After the male patient sought treatment at a local clinic in the Koundou area of Gueckedou and later passed away, a laboratory in Guinea used samples taken from the patient to confirm the virus, with the Institut Pasteur in nearby Senegal also affirming the findings.
Though cases of the Marbug virus have been identified in countries such as Angola, Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, this is the first known case in West Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) is now conducting contact tracing in an effort to track any spread of the disease.
In a statement, WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said:
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.
We are working with the health authorities to implement a swift response that builds on Guinea’s past experience and expertise in managing Ebola, which is transmitted in a similar way.
Marburg virus fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks, depending on virus strain and case management, with symptoms including a high fever, muscle pain and in some instances even bleeding from the eyes and ears.
The virus currently has no vaccine or dedicated drug treatment, though care including rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids and treatment of specific symptoms can improve survival.
To help prevent a spread, health authorities are hoping to raise awareness and prevent infection through public education and community mobilisation. Neighbouring countries are also said to be on alert for the virus.
The WHO has said an initial team of 10 experts, including epidemiologists and socio-anthropologists, is in the area to help investigate the case and support authorities in setting up an emergency response that will consist of ‘risk assessment, disease surveillance, community mobilization, testing, clinical care, infection prevention as well as logistical support’.
Gueckedou, where the Marburg virus case has been confirmed, is the same region that experienced an Ebola outbreak in 2014 to 2016, which killed 11,325 people, as well as a smaller Ebola epidemic earlier this year which killed 12 people.
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CreditsWorld Health Organization
World Health Organization