Ghana records first ever suspected cases of Marburg virus disease

pharmafile | July 11, 2022 | News story | Sales and Marketing  

Health authorities in Ghana have shared that for the first time they have confirmed two fatal cases of the Marburg virus, a relative of the Ebola virus. The findings have prompted Ghana to prepare for a potential outbreak of the disease.

In a statement on July 7, Ghana’s Health Service stated that the two cases of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) were detected in the Ashanti region.

The Ashanti region is roughly 250 kilometres from the capital of Ghana, Accra. The statement shared that, applying standard procedure, the samples have been sent to the Institut Pasteur in Senegal, a WHO collaborating centre. They have been sent to the centre for confirmation.

“Blood samples were sent to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research,” the statement shared. “Preliminary results suggest the infection is due to the Marburg virus,” the statement added, and also said that the health directorate in the region is “currently conducting further investigations on the cases and contacts.

If Ghana’s case is confirmed by WHO, this will mark the second time Marburg has been detected in West Africa. Guinea confirmed a single case in September, 2021.

The two patients from the Ashanti region, both deceased and unrelated, had symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, nausea, and vomiting. So far, 34 people have been quarantined and are being monitored for coming into contact with the infected two infected people.

Preparations for a possible outbreak response are being set up swiftly, as further investigations are underway.

“The health authorities are on the ground investigating the situation and preparing for a possible outbreak response”, said Dr Francis Kasolo, WHO Representative in Ghana. “We are working closely with the country to ramp up detection, track contacts, be ready to control the spread of the virus”.

Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases of Marburg in Africa have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda. Marburg is a highly infectious viral haemorrhagic fever, in the same family as the Ebola virus. 

It has a case fatality rate ranging from 24% to 88%, dependant on virus strain and case management, in past outbreaks.

Ana Ovey

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