Marburg Virus Disease: GHS Issues Red Alert

A red alert following the confirmation of the new Marburg virus disease in neighbouring Guinea.

The rare but highly infectious Marburg virus disease was detected in a patient who died on August 2, in Guinea making it the first case of the Ebola-like virus in West Africa.

A statement issued by the GHS on August 11, said it has alerted all its regional offices to be on high alert for the disease.

“All Regional and District Public Health Emergency Management Committees should include Marburg on their agenda”.

“Additionally, regions, district health facilities, port health units at all border posts particularly along the Western border and all landing beaches to heighten surveillance for Marburg using the standard case definition attached” it stated.

It added that the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research has the capacity for the confirmation of Marburg virus, thus samples from suspected cases must be transported there.

Marburg Virus

Marburg virus

The Marburg virus is transmitted to humans from fruit bats and can then be spread from human to human through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people or surfaces and materials contaminated with these fluids.

Symptoms begin abruptly, with a high fever, severe headache, and malaise.

Many patients develop severe haemorthagic signs within seven days.

Case fatality rates have varied from 24 per cent to 88 per cent in past outbreaks depending on the virus strain and case management.

There is currently no vaccines or antiviral treatments to treat Marburg, however, there are treatments for specific symptoms that could improve patients’ chances for survival.

Preventive measures

The preventive measures for the Marburg virus include avoiding contact with body fluids (such as urine, saliva, sweat, faeces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of people who show any of the symptoms above.

Practice hand hygiene: frequent hand washing with soap and under running water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s body fluids, avoid contact with dead bodies, including participating in funeral or burial rituals of suspected or confirmed Marburg cases.

Seek medical care immediately (nearest health facility) if one develops a fever (body temperature 38°C or above) or other symptoms such as severe headache, fatigue (feeling very tired), muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising.

Other measures

The statement further urged the general public to under no circumstance use public or private transport in transporting a suspected Marburg case.

“But rather call for support from the District Director of Health Service of respective Districts, Municipalities or Metropolis for the transfer of such persons to a health facility”, the statement said.

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