Officials in Guinea have confirmed the first case of the Marburg virus disease, the first case of the deadly illness in West Africa, the World Health Organisation said Monday.
“The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
The disease can be transmitted from person to person by exposure to blood and other bodily secretions.
Marburg virus disease is caused by viruses that produce symptoms of fever, chills, headaches and muscle aches early in the disease; symptoms worsen and may lead to hemorrhagic fever and death.
Risk factors include exposure to African green monkeys and certain bats; in addition, exposure to an infected human is high risk factor.
Fatality rates vary from about 23-90 percent; while complications of Marburg virus infections include eye, nerve, and bleeding problems.
Research is ongoing; Africa is experiencing more problems with viral diseases as humans increase their contact with African animals that previously had little contact with humans.
Guinean officials identified the case in the southern Gueckedou prefecture, said the WHO statement.
“This is the first time Marburg, a highly infectious disease that causes haemorrhagic fever, has been identified in the country, and in West Africa,” it added.
The disease falls into the same family as the virus that causes Ebola, another deadly and highly infectious disease.
Guinea’s discovery comes just two months after the WHO declared an end to the country’s second outbreak of Ebola, which started last year and claimed 12 lives.