Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Marburg virus (related to Ebola) shows up in west Africa for the first time

 Outbreak of Deadly Marburg Hemorrhagic Disease in West Africa

Aug. 10 (EIRNS)—The World Health Organization reported yesterday that it has confirmed the death of an individual in Guinea of the zoonotic disease (known to be carried in bats) named Marburg virus disease (MVD), which has 24 to 88% lethality, depending on what treatment its victims get, if any. It is the first known case of Marburg virus disease in Guinea and in West Africa, according to the WHO, although it has previously occurred in other areas of Africa. “The risk at the regional level is high,” because the individual lived in a village bordering on and well-connected to both Sierra Leone and Liberia, the WHO reports.

Guinea’s Ministry of Health, “together with the WHO, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ALIMA, Red Cross, UNICEF, The International Organization for Migration and other partners, have initiated measures to control the outbreak and prevent further spread. Contact tracing is ongoing, along with active case searching in health facilities and at the community level,” the WHO reported.

Only two months ago, Guinea had been declared free from an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, so the network of community health workers set up to deal with that outbreak and a WHO technical team which had remained in Guinea to support the government’s post-Ebola disease surveillance plan are now being “repurposed to support the government’s response activities to this outbreak of Marburg.”

There is no specific therapeutic or drug approved for MVD yet, but supportive care (close monitoring of vital signs, fluid resuscitation, electrolyte and acid-base monitoring along with management of co-infections and organ dysfunction) can affect the outcome. Some monoclonal antibodies are under development and other antivirals are being explored for MVD (e.g., galidesvir, favipiravir, remdesivir) as part of clinical trials, but without clear results at the moment. 

WHO reports that initially, human MVD infection results from prolonged exposure to mines or caves inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies. Marburg spreads 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.

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