The WHO works to contain an outbreak of Marburg, a virus similar to Ebola, and does not rule out that the real death toll is higher

The natural host of the Marburg virus is considered to be the fruit bat (AP Photo/Bob Child, File)

The World Health Organization (WHO) claimed to be working to contain a Marburg virus disease outbreaksimilar to that of ebolawhich has left at least nine dead in Equatorial Guineaalthough it does not rule out that the real number of deaths is higher.

“Until last February 21, the number of accumulated cases is nine, including one confirmed case, four probable cases and four suspected cases. All have passed away one is a health center and the other eight are in their communities,” the WHO reported late this Saturday through a statement.

“In this stage it cannot be ruled out that all cases of Marburg virus disease have been identifiedand there could be chains of transmission that have not been investigated,” the document added.

In fact, the WHO recognized that “most of the contacts of the nine people who died have not been identified” and the “burial conditions” of the dead are still unknown.

marburg virus
Computer-generated image of the Marburg virus (Getty Images) (Uma Shankar sharma/)

According to the information collected, the nine deceased were in contact with family members with symptoms resembling Marburg virus disease or participated in the burial of a person who may have died from this condition.

The outbreak was declared on the 13th in Equatorial Guinea and is the first of this disease in the African country, which lacks “sufficient” capacity to manage it, according to the WHO.

The WHO has deployed its experts in the province of Kié-Ntem, in the west of the continental region of Equatorial Guinea (where the disease was detected), and they work with the Equatoguinean health personnel.

These teams are working on the “active search for cases, contact tracing, isolation (of possible positive cases) and medical provision”.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of Africa (Africa CDC) of the African Union (AU) assured on the 16th that the outbreak should not “sow panic”, although they recognized that the disease has been detected in an area with porous borders with neighboring Cameroon and Gabon.

Thus, the WHO considers that the risk is “high” at the national level, “moderate” at the regional level and “low” at the global level.

Marburg is a highly infectious viral hemorrhagic fever from the same family as the better-known Ebola virus disease.

The most recent outbreak of this disease was detected in Ghana in 2022. (three confirmed infections), and before that there were cases in Guinea-Conakry (2021), Uganda (2017, 2014, 2012 and 2007), Angola (2004-2005), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1998 and 2000), Kenya (1990 , 1987 and 1980) and South Africa (1975).

Is as deadly as ebola and it is estimated that in Africa it has caused the death of more than 3,500 people.

Like Ebola, that virus causes sudden bleeding and can cause death in a few dayswith an incubation period of 2 to 21 days and a mortality rate up to 88%.

Fruit bats are the natural hosts of this virus, which when transmitted to humans can be transmitted through direct contact with fluids such as blood, saliva, vomit or urine.

The disease, for which there is no vaccine or specific treatment, was detected in 1967 in the German city of Marburg -the origin of its name- by laboratory technicians who were infected while investigating monkeys brought from Uganda.

(With information from EFE)

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