First West African case of Marburg virus detected in Guinea: WHO

Two months after being declared Ebola-free, Guinea confirms first case of deadly Marburg virus.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health officials in Guinea have confirmed the West African region’s first case of the lethal Marburg virus which is regarded to be in the same family as the Ebola virus. This comes just two months after the country was declared free of Ebola which killed 12 people. The rare virus was first detected in 1967, in the German city Marburg. Since then, there have been 12 major Marburg outbreaks of the disease, with most of these being reported across southern and eastern Africa. The last outbreak of the disease was recorded in Angola back in 2005. To date, there is no treatment available for the virus, with consuming large amounts of water and the treatment of specific symptoms seen as key to improving survival chances.

The recent case, of the now deceased patient, was identified in Guéckédou - the same region where the latest Ebola cases were identified. “The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. To contain possible spread into other countries, cross-border surveillance measures have also been heightened to enable prompt detection of cases. Ten experts from WHO, including epidemiologists and socio-anthropologists, have already been deployed to support national health authorities. "We are working with the health authorities to implement a swift response that builds on Guinea's past experience and expertise in managing Ebola, which is transmitted in a similar way," added Moeti.