In news– Recently, the first two cases of the Marburg virus, a highly infectious Ebola-like disease, was confirmed officially by Ghana.
What is Marburg virus?
- Marburg virus disease (MVD), earlier known as Marburg hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal hemorrhagic fever.
- Marburg, like Ebola, is a filovirus; and both diseases are clinically similar.
- Rousettus fruit-bats are considered the natural hosts for Marburg virus.
- However, the WHO pointed out that African green monkeys imported from Uganda were the source of the first human infection.
- Human infection with Marburg virus disease initially results from prolonged exposure to mines or caves inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies.
- Once an individual is infected with the virus, Marburg can spread through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
- It was first detected in 1967 after simultaneous outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany; and in Belgrade, Serbia.
- The disease has an average fatality rate of around 50%. However, it can be as low as 24% or as high as 88% depending on virus strain and case management.
- After the onset of symptoms, which can begin anytime between 2 to 21 days, MVD can manifest itself in the form of high fever, muscle aches and severe headache.
- Around the third day, patients report abdominal pain, vomiting, severe watery diarrhoea and cramping.
- In this phase, the appearance of patients has been often described as “ghost-like” with deep-set eyes, expressionless faces, and extreme lethargy.
- Severe blood loss leads to death, often between 8 to 9 days after symptoms begin.
- It is difficult to clinically distinguish MVD from diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and other viral haemorrhagic fevers.
- However, it is confirmed by lab testing of samples, which like Coronavirus and Ebola are extreme biohazard risk.
- There is no approved antiviral treatment or vaccine for MVD as of now.
- It can be managed with supportive care. According to the WHO, rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, and treatment of specific symptoms can help prevent death.
- The recent outbreak is only the second time that the disease has been detected in West Africa.