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GUINEA confirms west Africa’s first MARBURG virus disease death – WHO

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Marburg case was detected in Gueckedou, less than two months after Guinea declared an end to an Ebola outbreak that erupted earlier this year. Cases of the 2021 Ebola outbreak in Guinea, as well as the 2014-2016 west Africa outbreak, were initially detected in the same region.

The patient, a male, had onset of symptoms — fever, headache, fatigue, abdominal pain, and gingival hemorrhage — on July 25. He sought treatment at a small health facility on August 1. A rapid diagnostic test for malaria was performed which was negative. The patient received supportive care with rehydration, parenteral antibiotics, and treatment to manage symptoms. However, he died the following day.

An investigation team of national authorities and WHO experts were deployed to conduct an in-depth investigation. They collected a post-mortem oral swab sample. A real-time PCR was conducted which confirmed the sample was positive for Marburg virus disease and negative for Ebola virus disease.

“The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks,” World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement on Monday.

There have been 12 major Marburg outbreaks since 1967, mostly in southern and eastern Africa.

Marburg is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces, and materials.

Illness begins abruptly, with a high fever, severe headache, and malaise. Many patients develop severe hemorrhagic signs within seven days. Case fatality rates have varied from 24 percent to 88 percent in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management.

Although there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus, supportive care — rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids — and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival. A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies, and drug therapies, are being evaluated, the WHO said.


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