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Guinea: WHO announces Marburg fever outbreak in West Africa

Guinea: WHO announces Marburg fever outbreak in West Africa

In the West African state of Guinea, the authorities have announced an outbreak of life-threatening Marburg fever. As the World Health Organization announced on Monday evening, this is the first case ever in West Africa. Less than two months after the end of an Ebola outbreak in the state, the highly contagious fever was discovered in southern Guinea in the Guéckédou prefecture in a patient who has since died. Initial on-site investigations were confirmed by the Pasteur Institute in Senegal’s capital Dakar. The search for contact persons for the patient has been initiated. Containing the outbreak is made more difficult by the simultaneous fight against the coronavirus.

Similar to an Ebola infection, bat-borne Marburg fever usually leads to a high fever and internal bleeding. It is considered highly contagious and is transmitted to other people primarily through direct contact with body fluids. No antiviral drugs or vaccinations against the Marburg virus are currently approved, the WHO said in a statement.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, praised the “vigilance and rapid investigation” of the Guinean health authorities, which can build on the experience gained from the fight against the Ebola virus. The virus has the potential to spread worldwide, says Moeti. Therefore, the outbreak must be stopped as soon as possible. The WHO estimates the risk of an epidemic in the country and the region as “high”, but the global risk is currently low.

The case, which was reported to the WHO on August 6, was discovered in a village near the border with the neighboring states of Sierra Leone and Liberia. How and where the man who did not survive the infection contracted the pathogen is not known. So far, the WHO and other aid organizations have identified 146 contact persons who are now being monitored for signs of illness. The WHO specifies between two and 21 days as the time span in which the first symptoms appear after an infection. Between 24 and 90 percent of those infected die from the virus.

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