Ebola-like Marburg virus is found in West Africa for the first time

Ebola-like Marburg virus is found in West Africa for the first time: Patient in Guinea is killed by disease that causes 88% of sufferers to bleed to death

  • The case was first identified last week after patient sought hospital treatment
  • Previous Marburg virus outbreaks have seen fatality rates of up to 88 per cent 
  • There have been several since virus was first identified in Germany and Serbia in 1967, most of which have been in southern and eastern Africa

An Ebola-like virus has been found in West Africa for the first time with a patient in Guinea dying from the extremely fatal disease. 

Health authorities in Guinea have confirmed one death from the Marburg virus, a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever which causes suffers to bleed to death, the World Health Organization said on Monday. 

The death marks the first time that the deadly disease has been identified in West Africa. There have been 12 major Marburg outbreaks since the virus was first discovered in the German town of the same name in 1967, mostly in southern and eastern Africa. Simultaneous outbreaks also occurred in Frankfurt and Belgrade, Serbia.

Guinea’s new case was first identified last week, just two months after the country was declared free of Ebola following a brief flare-up earlier this year that killed 12 people.

The patient, who has since succumbed to the illness, first sought treatment at a local clinic before his condition rapidly deteriorated, the WHO statement said.

Health authorities in Guinea have confirmed one death from the Marburg virus, a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever which causes suffers to bleed to death, the World Health Organization said on Monday [Stock image]

Analysts at Guinea’s national hemorrhagic fever laboratory and the Institute Pasteur in Senegal later confirmed the Marburg diagnosis.

‘The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks,’ Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, said in the statement.

‘We are working with the health authorities to implement a swift response that builds on Guinea’s past experience and expertise in managing Ebola, which is transmitted in a similar way,’ Moeti said.

Both the Marburg case and this year’s Ebola cases were detected in Guinea’s Gueckedou district, near the borders with Liberia and Ivory Coast. 

The first cases of the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic, the largest in history, also were from the same region in Southeastern Guinea’s forest region.

Marburg case fatality rates have varied from 24 per cent to 88 per cent in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and case management, WHO said, adding that transmission occurs through contact with infected body fluids and tissue.

Symptoms include headache, vomiting blood, muscle pains and bleeding through various orifices.

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