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Marburg Virus Disease Outbreak
World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the first outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD) in a Central African nation, Equatorial Guinea with 9 death cases so far. Marburg disease is a highly virulent disease caused by the virus of the Filoviridae family. It is clinically similar to that of the deadly Ebola virus disease. It was first identified in 1967 in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, and in Belgrade, Serbia.
The virus was detected in a laboratories in Germany , when working with African Green Monkeys, which led to the deaths of at least seven people working there. However, the prime carrier of this virus is the African Fruit Bat named as Rousettus bat. The first outbreak in Marburg was declared in Kie-Ntem province, which is currently under lock-down.
Its fatality rate is 88% and it can be reduced up to 24% depending on virus strain and symptom management. This disease was also detected in Angola in 2004, where it killed 90% of the 250 people infected. The disease also led to two deaths in Ghana just 2022.
Transmission of the disease
The virus was first transmitted from the Fruit bat. The virus is transmitted among Human beings through physical transmission such as any forms of contact with bodily fluids of the affected patients.Health care workers and volunteers are at the high risk of contracting this virus as the are closely associated with the patients. The fatality is mostly noted on the 8th or the 9th day. Its incubation period varies between 2 to 21 days.
The illness is marked by sudden outbreak of high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle pain and malaise . Around the 3rd to 5th day, patients are likely to experience diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, chest pain, sore throat, nausea and vomiting. In addition to this, many patients develop severe hemorrhagic conditions around 7 days, like fresh blood in vomit and feces, bleeding from nose, gums, testicles and vagina, as per the WHO. “In fatal cases, death occurs most often between 8 and 9 days after symptom onset, usually preceded by severe blood loss and shock,”as reported by WHO.
“The appearance of patients at this phase has been described as showing “ghost-like” drawn features, deep-set eyes, expressionless faces, and extreme lethargy,” the WHO says. The virus is reported to attack several organs at the same time, collapsing the body functions completely. Progression of the disease also affects the Central Nervous System leading to confusion, irritability and aggressive behaviors.
There are no authorized vaccines or antiviral treatments for this disease as of now. However, rehydration with intravenous or oral fluids, seems to have pacified symptoms and can enhance the chances of survival. Treatment of specific symptoms can also reduce the burden of the disease. “A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies, as well as candidate vaccines with phase 1 data are being evaluated,” as per WHO in a recent report.
Threat or not
Covid virus has taught us that jumping borders and causing a world-wide pandemic is not difficult for viruses. With the fatality rate of these viruses ranging between 24 – 88%, if it spreads across borders, then it can lead to another pandemic for sure. The only prevention that can be followed as of now is to bring the central nations of Africa under lock-down to avoid contamination. The world is not ready to face another Pandemic!
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught lessons to mankind which we shall implement in preventing loss of innocents again.