The World Health Organization confirms the first-ever breakout of Marburg disease in the tiny Western African country, Equatorial Guinea. The outbreak was first reported on February 7 and was confirmed as Marburg disease on February 13, 2023.
WHO confirmed the outbreak was Marburg disease after getting the results from the samples of Equatorial Guinea to a Senegalese laboratory.
According to WHO, there are currently 16 active cases and 9 deaths in the Western African country. As per the reports from WHO, Marburg disease is caused by an Ebola-related virus with symptoms such as fever, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting.
This virus cannot be treated with any approved vaccinations or antiviral medicines. According to WHO, a variety of prospective medicines, such as blood products, pharmaceutical therapies, immune therapies, and candidate vaccines with phase 1 results being considered.
Here is all that you want to know about the deadly disease detected in Equatorial Guinea.
What Is Marburg Disease?
Marburg disease, formerly known as Marburg hemorrhagic fever, is a deadly disease found in human and non-human primates. This viral hemorrhagic fever can be caused by either the Marburg virus (MARV) or the Ravn virus (RAVV).
The clinical signs and symptoms are very much similar to that of the Ebola virus infection. The viruses causing Marburg and Ebola come in the same family.
The Marburg viral disease has a fatality rate of up to 88%. Egyptian fruit bats are the typical natural carriers of the Marburg virus, and their RNA has been isolated.
Which Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Marburg Disease?
Hemorrhage, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting are the major symptoms of Marburg Disease. The illness starts with a high fever and a terrible headache before moving on to diarrhea. This will be followed by diarrhea, cramping in the abdomen, and vomiting.
According to WHO, a person who is affected with the Marburg viral disease will experience severe hemorrhagic symptoms between five to seven days.
What Are The Causes Of Marburg Disease?
The Marburg viral disease is mainly caused by two viruses, the Marburg virus (MARV) and Ravn virus (RAVV) from the family Filoviridae.
The MARV is common in the equatorial deserts of Africa and the majority of these infections have frequently been linked to exposure to natural caves or mining.
The MARV and RAVV were successfully detected from healthy Egyptian fruit bats that were captured in caves in 2009. These Egyptian fruit bats are considered the real hosts of MARV and RAVV.
How Is The Marburg Disease Transmitted?
It is not clear how the Marburg disease was first transmitted to humans. Although the precise methods and body fluids involved in transmission are unknown, it most likely occurs from Egyptian fruit bats or another natural host.
Direct contact with contaminated bodily fluids, such as blood, causes the MVD to spread from person to person.
Is There Any Treatment To Prevent Marburg Disease?
The Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved any vaccines to prevent Marburg virus disease. Numerous potential vaccines have been created and tested using different animal models.
Marburg virus disease lacks efficient treatment. As per the records, the natural hosts of the MARV and RAVV are considered to be Egyptian fruit bats. So, it is strongly recommended to stay away from caves and avoid coming in contact with bats.
The easiest way to prevent Marburg virus disease during its outbreak is by avoiding direct contact with the patients, their bodily fluids and excretions, and any potentially infected objects and utensils. Patients should be kept apart, and isolated from others.
When Was The First Marburg Disease Reported?
The Marburg disease was initially reported with 31 cases in 1967 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and the German cities of Marburg and Frankfurt am Main. Seven deaths and 25 primary MARV infections were associated with the outbreak, along with six non-lethal secondary cases.
A traveler from Australia had been affected by the MARV virus in Rhodesia in 1975. The affected man has died at a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. His girlfriend and an attending nurse were diagnosed with the disease, but both recovered.
Later in 1980, a case of MARV was reported in Kenya. The man diagnosed with the virus died soon after and the doctor who consulted him was affected but survived.
In 1987, a case of RAVV viral infection was reported to a 15-year-old Danish boy. The boy died soon after the diagnosis of the disease.
Later in 1988, a researcher was infected with MARV. In 1990 another researcher had the same infection. 1998 to 2000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo witnessed the outbreak of MARV which caused 128 deaths.
The Angola region was affected by the MARV virus between 2004 and 2005 causing the death of 227 out of 252 reported cases.
In 2007, the disease was again reported in Uganda, and in 2008 in the Netherlands. In the year 2017, Uganda witnessed the outbreak of MARV which caused the death of three or four people. In 2021 it affected some people in Guinea whereas in Ghana in 2022.
The latest cases of Marburg disease have been reported in Equatorial Guinea. 9 deaths have been reported so far, along with 16 active cases.