World Health Organization declares Marburg outbreak in Ghana

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BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo – The World Health Organization has declared the first outbreak of Marburg-like Ebola virus disease in Ghana after laboratories confirmed infections in two cases announced earlier this month.

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The disease, a highly contagious hemorrhagic fever in the same family as Ebola, is transmitted to humans by fruit bats and passed between people through direct contact with bodily fluids from infected people and surfaces, WHO said. .

Preliminary analysis of samples from two patients from the southern Ashanti region of Ghana – both deceased and unrelated – came back positive, but was forwarded for full confirmation to the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal. This United Nations health agency laboratory corroborated the findings from the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Ghana, the WHO said in a statement on Sunday.

The first case was a 26-year-old man who presented to hospital on June 26 and died on June 27. The second was a 51-year-old man who went to hospital on June 28 and died the same day, WHO said, adding that both men had sought treatment at the same hospital.

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“Health authorities reacted quickly, getting a head start on preparing for a possible outbreak,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti. “This is good because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily spiral out of control. WHO is on the ground supporting health authorities and now that the outbreak has been declared, we are mustering more resources for the response.

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More than 90 contacts, including health workers and community members, have been identified and are being followed up, WHO said.

Marburg is potentially very harmful and deadly: case fatality rates in past outbreaks have ranged from 24% to 88%.

This outbreak marks only the second time the disease has been detected in West Africa – after Guinea confirmed a single case detected in August, according to the WHO. The outbreak in Guinea was declared more than five weeks later.

Previous outbreaks of Marburg and individual cases have appeared in Angola, Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, the WHO said.

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