Ghana confirms its first outbreak of Marburg virus

A health worker wearing protective clothing carries waste for disposal outside an isolation ward treating people infected with the deadly Marburg virus in the northern Angolan city of Uike, File.

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DAKAR, July 17 (Reuters) – Ghana has officially confirmed two cases of the highly contagious Ebola-like Marburg virus, its health service said on Sunday, after two people who died tested positive for the virus earlier this month.

Tests in Ghana came back positive on July 10, but according to the World Health Organization, the results must be verified by a laboratory in Senegal for cases to be considered confirmed. read more

“Further test results have been confirmed at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal,” the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said in a statement.

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The GHS is working to minimize any risk of spreading the virus, including isolating all identified contacts, none of whom have yet developed any symptoms, it said.

This is the second explosion in Marburg in West Africa. The region’s first outbreak of the virus was detected in Guinea last year, and no cases have been identified.

“(Ghanaian) health authorities have responded quickly, preparing for a possible outbreak. This is good because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg could easily get out of hand,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

The two patients in the Ashanti region of southern Ghana had symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting before they died in hospital, the WHO said.

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A dozen major Marburg eruptions have occurred in southern and eastern Africa since 1967. According to the World Health Organization, mortality rates have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks, depending on the virus strain and case management.

It is transmitted to people by fruit bats and to humans through direct contact with bodily fluids, surfaces and objects of infected individuals, WHO says.

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Alessandra Prentice and Nellie Peyton report; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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