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Concern over first outbreak in Ghana of deadly Marburg virus, from same family as Ebola

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Ghana confirmed its first two cases of the deadly Marburg virus, a highly infectious disease from the same family of viruses that causes Ebola. Both patients recently died in a hospital in the southern Ashanti region, authorities in that country reported.

His samples tested positive earlier this month and have now been verified by a lab in Senegal. Health officials in the West African nation say 98 people are now in quarantine as suspected contact cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which is supporting the country’s health authorities, praised Ghana’s quick response.

“Health authorities have responded quickly, anticipating preparation for a possible outbreak. This is good because, without immediate and decisive action, Marburg (virus) can easily get out of control,” said WHO Africa Director Matshidiso. Moeti, in a statement.

“WHO is supporting health authorities on the ground and now that the outbreak has been declared, we are marshalling more resources for the response,” Moeti added.

The WHO has contacted Ghana’s high-risk neighboring countries and they are on alert.

No treatment

There is no treatment for Marburg virus disease (MVD) yet, but doctors say that drinking plenty of water and treating specific symptoms improves a patient’s chances of survival. The virus is transmitted to people through fruit bats and spreads between humans through transmission of bodily fluids.

It is a serious, often fatal disease, with symptoms including headache, fever, muscle aches, vomiting blood, and bleeding. Officials are warning people to stay away from the caves and to fully cook all meat products before consuming.

This is the second time the Marburg has been identified in West Africa.

There was one confirmed case in Guinea last year, but that outbreak was declared over in September, five weeks after the case was identified. Elsewhere on the continent, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, the WHO says.

The virus killed more than 200 people in Angola in 2005, the deadliest outbreak on record, according to the WHO. The first Marburg outbreak was in Germany in 1967 , where seven people died.


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