Rousettus aegyptiacus or Egyptian fruit bats.  Prolonged exposure to the mines or caves in which they live may infect humans with deadly Marburg virus disease.

What is Marburg virus? WHO declares outbreak after two deaths in Ghana – National Post

In late June, two unrelated people – a 26-year-old man and a 51-year-old man in Ghana – died in hospital from the deadly virus.

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Two people died after testing positive for Marburg virus disease in Ghana in June – and now the World Health Organization (WHO) is declaring the first-ever outbreak in the West African country.

“Marburg is a highly contagious viral hemorrhagic fever that belongs to the same family as the more well-known Ebola virus disease,” Says World Health Organization.

For those diagnosed with the disease, up to 88 percent may die. The incubation period ranges from two to 21 days, compared to two to 14 days with COVID-19, for example. It can spread from person to person by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. It can also spread through infected material, such as clothing.

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Its symptoms include high fever and severe headache, and muscle aches and pains are also common. On the third day of infection, severe diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting may begin. The World Health Organization says patients can appear “ghostly” and be very lethargic. In fatal cases, the patient usually has bleeding from several areas, including the nose and gums.

There is currently no cure for Marburg virus, however, treatment for its symptoms can be provided.

In late June, two unrelated people – a 26-year-old man and a 51-year-old man in Ghana – died in hospital after being admitted to themselves, suffering from diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting. More than 90 people who have come into contact with them are being monitored.

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The discovery of the disease stems from two outbreaks in 1967 that occurred around the same time: one in Germany, in Marburg and Frankfurt, and the other in Belgrade, Serbia. The outbreaks can be traced back to a laboratory that worked with African green monkeys imported from Uganda.

“In 2008, two independent cases of travelers were reported who visited a cave inhabited by Rositos bat colonies in Uganda,” says WHO, adding that prolonged exposure to mines or caves where those colonies live can lead to human infection.

Cases and outbreaks of Marburg virus have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, with links to Zimbabwe.

Doctor Mark Katz, a member of the World Health Organization (WHO), takes an oral biopsy from patient Feliciana suspected of having Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Kinguangua, near Uige.  Feliciana's grandmother, sister, and ex-husband died of Marburg hemorrhagic fever.  The young woman tested negative after she was taken to Uige County Hospital for observation.
Doctor Mark Katz, a member of the World Health Organization (WHO), takes an oral biopsy from patient Feliciana suspected of having Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Kinguangua, near Uige. Feliciana’s grandmother, sister, and ex-husband died of Marburg hemorrhagic fever. The young woman tested negative after she was taken to Uige County Hospital for observation. Photo by Christopher Black/AFP/Getty Images

The outbreak in Guinea was announced in 2021, and it lasted for five weeks, after one case of the virus.

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Since 1967, 478 of the 590 people infected with the disease have died, according to the World Health Organization data on major outbreaks, except for the last deaths in June.

Regarding the further spread of the disease, WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matchidiso Moeti said the response has been swift.

“WHO on the ground is supporting health authorities and now that the outbreak has been announced, we are mobilizing more resources to respond,” she said in a statement.

To avoid contracting the virus, the Ghana Health Service Disease Control Department recommends not eating bush meat, washing hands frequently with soap and water, and not handling the corpses of people who may have been infected with Marburg virus.

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