Everything you need to know about the Marburg Virus Outbreak in Africa; A Neglected Tropical Disease

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Samantha Trolli

Published 12 Aug 2022 - Updated 01 Sep 2022

Everything you need to know about the Marburg Virus Outbreak in Africa; A Neglected Tropical Disease - Infiuss Health


What is the Marburg Virus?

       Marburg virus, also referred to as viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) is an endemic-prone, highly infectious disease caused by a virus in the same family as Ebola, otherwise known as the filovirus family. This virus is also a zoonotic RNA virus of the family filovirus, meaning it is animal born. Marburg is transmitted to humans from fruit bats, but can also be spread through direct human-to-human contact with bodily fluids or by contaminated surfaces. This virus is a rare and severe hemorrhagic fever, meaning that this is a condition that affects multiple organ systems of the body. This extent of damage impacts the overall cardiovascular system, weakening the body and affecting the body’s ability to function on its own. 

Is there an outbreak of Marburg Virus?

       On June 28th 2022, two fatal cases of VHF were detected in the Ashanti region of Ghana, Africa. The patient from case one was a 26 year old man, the patient from the second case was a 51 year old man. Both of these patients died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Blood samples were collected to determine the cause of their VHF and on July 7th, 2022 both cases tested positive for the Marburg virus. The source of infection for both cases remains unknown. What we do know is that both men worked as farmers, but in different locations. The one similarity that can be traced between the two cases is that both men came from communities who reside in a forest environment. Collectively, 108 individuals were identified to have been in contact with either of these cases. All individuals who were in contact with these individuals were put under self-quarantine and monitored daily for 21 days. After their self-quarantine, all individuals reported to be in good health. 

Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, & Prevention:

        According to WHO, both infected men arrived at the hospital presenting with symptoms of fever, general discomfort, bleeding from the nose and mouth, and subconjunctival bleeding. Symptoms may begin abruptly, the most common early symptoms are a high fever, severe headache, discomfort, muscle aches, and cramping pains throughout the body. The fatality rate of Marburg ranges from 24% to 88%, depending on the strain of the virus. In fatal cases, severe symptoms, similar to the two detected cases, arise eight to nine days after initial contamination.  
      The CDC states that a clinical diagnosis of Marburg is difficult, this is because many of the early symptoms can be mistaken for other infectious diseases. As of now there are no treatments available for the Marburg virus. According to the CDC, “supportive hospital therapy should be utilized.” This includes things like balancing fluids, maintaining oxygen, and treatments for any treatable infections. Marburg virus is rare, but it does have the ability to spread. Suggested prevention measures include avoiding direct contact with suspected cases and a raised awareness of the symptoms. 

Where do we go from here?

       As of now this outbreak seems to be contained, as no new cases have been reported. The best course of action right now is to increase awareness in healthcare providers who are located in communities where Marburg virus is possible. This allows for earlier and stronger precautions to be taken in order to help treat and prevent the spread of this virus. 
 Research is crucial in times like these in order to develop treatments and further our knowledge on this virus. Furthermore, Marburg virus can be recognized as a neglected tropical disease. Infiuss Health can help you research neglected tropical diseases like the Marburg virus. With our on-the-ground access to Africa, we have the resources to help you make a difference and help develop better and new treatment. 

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