At a time when the West African country is still reeling with the dire effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana has recorded yet another outbreak of a ‘new virus’. The virus, commonly known as the Marbug virus is infectious and deadly and has been known in West Africa since the 1960s. In Ghana however, it had not posed any life threat but its recent resurgence is a cause for concern for the authorities.
The confirmation of the Marbug virus by the country comes soon after the World Health Organisation, W.H.O. confirmed earlier results on the existence of the virus in Ghana. The tests for the virus which confirmed positive were conducted in Ghana and verification processes had to be conducted in Senegal.
The Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal received samples from each of the two patients from the southern Ashanti region of Ghana – both deceased and unrelated – who showed symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, vomiting, and nausea. The laboratory corroborated the results from the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, which suggested their illness was due to the Marburg virus.
One case was a 26-year-old male who checked into a hospital on 26 June 2022 and died on 27 June. The second case was a 51 -year-old male who reported to the hospital on 28 June and died on the same day. Both cases sought treatment at the same hospital within days of each other. Marburg is a highly infectious viral haemorrhagic fever in the same family as the more well-known Ebola virus disease. It is only the second time the zoonotic disease has been detected in West Africa. Guinea confirmed a single case in an outbreak that was declared over on 16 September 2021, five weeks after the initial case was detected.
Meanwhile, Ghanaian health authorities have responded swiftly, getting a head start preparing for a possible outbreak. “This is good because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand,” said Matshidiso Moeti, W.H.O regional director for Africa. A raft of measures being put in place by the country to contain the deadly virus include isolation of all identified contacts who are still to manifest any symptoms of the virus.
Since 1967, there have been a dozen major Marburg outbreaks, mostly in southern and eastern Africa. According to the world health governing and monitoring body, W.H.O, the fatality rates for the virus have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks depending on the virus strain and case management. It is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces and materials, reports W.H.O.
As of now, the virus is understood to not having any cure but specialists in the field of virology suggest that drinking loads of water and treating symptoms can bolster survival rates.