Health officials in Guinea have confirmed West Africa’s first case of Marburg, a highly-infectious disease that’s in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the virus needed to be “stopped in its tracks”.
Marburg virus disease (MVD), formerly known as Marburg haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
It is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through the transmission of bodily fluids.
According to WHO, the incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) varies from 2 to 21 days.
Illness caused by Marburg virus begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache and severe malaise. Muscle aches and pains are a common feature. Severe watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain and cramping, nausea and vomiting can begin on the third day. Diarrhoea can persist for a week.
The appearance of patients at this phase has been described as showing “ghost-like” drawn features, deep-set eyes, expressionless faces, and extreme lethargy. In the 1967 European outbreak, non-itchy rash was a feature noted in most patients between 2 and 7 days after onset of symptoms.
Many patients develop severe haemorrhagic manifestations between 5 and 7 days, and fatal cases usually have some form of bleeding, often from multiple areas. Fresh blood in vomitus and faeces is often accompanied by bleeding from the nose, gums, and vagina.
Samples taken from the patient in Guinea, who has since died, were tested in the country’s laboratories, and returned a positive result for the Marburg virus.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, from the WHO, said the virus had the potential to spread far and wide.
Efforts are currently being made to find people who may have been in contact with the man.
The systems in place in Guinea and neighbouring countries to control recent Ebola outbreaks are being taken up again in response to the Marburg virus.