Here's everything you need to know about the deadly Marburg virus

Jul 28 2022, 6:44 pm

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed two more cases of the deadly Marburg virus, bringing the total of identified infections to four.

Officials with the WHO say the cases were discovered in Ghana and are connected to the family of the first case, with one person dying from the virus.

The outbreak total stands at four, with three deaths and an “extensive field investigation is underway,” according to the WHO.

The first cases were reported in early July when two farmers working in the Ashanti region of Ghana died.

Preliminary investigations showed that neither of the cases had a history of contact with animals – both dead and alive – or sick persons, and had not attended any social gathering within three weeks of symptoms onset.

Although both cases were farmers, they worked in different locations, and they have not been found to be epidemiologically linked.

What is Marburg Virus

Marburg virus is a highly virulent disease that causes hemorrhagic fever, with a fatality ratio of up to 88% and is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola virus.

Once an individual is infected with the virus, Marburg can spread through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.

Illness caused by the Marburg virus begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache, and severe malaise. Muscle aches and pains are a common feature.

Severe watery diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, and vomiting can begin on the third day and diarrhea 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.

Many patients develop severe hemorrhagic manifestations within seven days, and fatal cases usually have bleeding, often from multiple areas.

In fatal cases, death usually occurs between eight and nine days after onset, usually preceded by severe blood loss and shock.

There is no proven treatment available for Marburg virus disease. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies, and drug therapies are currently being evaluated.

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