Should You Be Concerned About The Recent Marburg Virus Outbreak In Africa?

Ghana is taking action against a recent Marburg virus outbreak after two men died in June of the illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO is supporting the Ashanti region of Ghana by offering expertise, protective equipment, and resources for testing and tracing. More than 90 members of the community are being monitored to control the outbreak. The WHO alerted other countries in West Africa to take precautions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Marburg was first seen in 1967 in Germany and Yugoslavia, where 31 cases were reported and seven people died. The most recent case of Marburg was in Guinea in 2021. The WHO says that the two men who died last month in Ghana were not related to one another.

The WHO adds that the Marburg virus is similar to Ebola and spreads from fruit bats to people. It causes a highly infectious fever in humans. Although Marburg's fatality rate ranges from 24% to 88%, symptoms of the virus can be treated through rehydration, immune therapies, and drug therapies. Currently, there is no vaccine for the Marburg virus.

What to know about the Marburg virus

The virus spreads through cuts on the skin or through the eyes, nose, or mouth, according to the CDC. Marburg survives in blood or bodily fluids such as sweat, semen, or saliva. You can become infected with the virus if you have direct contact with clothing, bedding, or equipment that might have been contaminated with the infected bodily fluid. That's why the virus might spread among healthcare workers or family members of those infected with Marburg, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, there is no evidence that you can get Marburg if you're bitten by an insect.

According to Healthline, Marburg can be difficult to diagnose because the initial symptoms are similar to other viruses. The CDC says that Marburg can be in the body for two to 21 days before someone experiences symptoms. The first symptoms include muscle aches, headache, chills, and fever. When the virus grows in severity, a person might experience digestive issues, such as diarrhea or nausea. If the virus is left untreated, it can cause severe hemorrhaging and organ dysfunction.