FAQ | Marburg: What You Need To Know About This Deadly Virus
What is Marburg virus? What are the symptoms? Fit answers your FAQs
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Two cases of Marburg, a deadly Ebola-like virus were detected on Sunday, 17 July in Ghana putting neighbouring countries with no confirmed vaccine or treatment, on high alert to look out for the virus.
What is Marburg Virus?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Marburg virus is the cause of Marburg virus disease (MVD) - a highly infectious viral hemorrhagic fever from the same family as Ebola - and has a fatality rate as high as 88 percent. "Illness begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache, and malaise," the WHO has stated.
Where has Marburg been found?
The first case of Marburg virus was detected in the city of Marburg, Germany in 1967, associated with laboratory work using African green monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) imported from Uganda.
This is the second time Marburg has been detected in the Western African region. The first one was in Guinea in September 2021 and no further cases were confirmed by Guinean health authorities.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda were also some of the regions where the virus spread.
How does Marburg transmit?
The virus is transmitted through fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus bats), human-to-human transmission via direct contact - through broken skin or mucous membranes, blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
What are the symptoms of Marburg?
You should be looking out for symptoms like high fever, severe headache, and severe malaise. Muscle aches and pains are said to be a common feature. You may experience severe watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and cramping. Nausea and vomiting are likely to begin on the third day.
In fatal cases, death may occur between 8 and 9 days after symptom onset, usually preceded by severe blood loss and shock.
How deadly is the Marburg Virus?
In 1967, the first ever Marburg virus outbreak killed seven people, and more than 200 people were killed in Angola in 2005.
How can Marburg virus be treated?
As of now, there is no specific treatment for the virus. Healthcare providers must treat the disease by managing the patient's overall health including balancing the patient’s fluids and electrolytes, maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure, replacing lost blood and clotting factors, and treatment for any complicating infections.
How can Marburg be prevented?
The measures to prevent the virus have not been well defined yet, however, avoiding fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus), and sick non-human primates is one way to protect yourself from getting infected.
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