WHO confirms Marburg disease outbreak: Symptoms to know

The Marburg disease has been declared an epidemic by the World Health Organisation recently. In the first-ever outbreak of Marburg disease, the Ebola-related virus has claimed nine lives in Equatorial Guinea, a country in Central Africa. The confirmation of the disease being an epidemic came after the global health authority tested samples from the country that were delivered last week.
So far, 16 suspected cases of the Marburg disease have been detected in Equatorial Guinea. Nearly 200 people have been asked to quarantine to contain the spread of the virus.

Although there have been prior outbreaks and isolated cases in other regions of Africa, including Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda, this is the country’s first Marburg outbreak. However, the disease is believed to be highly infectious, which is why you need to know all about the disease.

Marburg disease
WHO confirms Marburg disease in central Africa. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What is Marburg disease?

The Marburg disease is a bat-borne illness that spreads to people by direct contact with infected bodily fluids or objects. As per WHO, the virus that causes Marburg disease is similar to the Ebola virus. It is a highly infectious disease and has a fatality ratio of up to 88 percent.

According to the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), Marburg is a rare hemorrhagic fever that can harm the body’s organs and result in bleeding. According to the CDC, it is a zoonotic virus that, along with the six Ebola virus species, makes up the filovirus family. It was first recognized in 1967.

Signs and symptoms of Marburg disease

Some of the common symptoms seen in the cases detected in Equatorial Guinea include fever, diarrhoea, tiredness, and vomiting. As per CDC, the incubation period of the disease is 2-21 days and the symptoms include:

Some symptoms may appear after the onset of the initial signs of the disease, which include:

  • Rash on check, back or stomach
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Sore throat
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
Marburg disease
Symptoms and signs of the Marburg disease! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Severe symptoms of the Marburg disease

When the disease progresses, it may lead to severe symptoms like:

What are the treatment options available?

Currently, there is no vaccine or treatment available to protect people from the Marburg virus. However, health authorities may use treatments such as rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, which may even increase the survival rates.
To support the national response efforts and ensure community collaboration in outbreak control, WHO is sending out experts in epidemiology, case management, infection prevention, laboratory, and risk communication.

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