Health authorities in Guinea have confirmed a case of Marburg virus disease in the southern Gueckedou prefecture. This is the first time Marburg, a highly infectious disease that causes haemorrhagic fever, has been identified in the country, and in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. In a press release, WHO Africa says that Marburg, which is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola, was detected less than two months after Guinea declared an end to an Ebola outbreak. Samples taken from a now-deceased patient and tested by a field laboratory in Gueckedou as well as Guinea’s national haemorrhagic fever laboratory turned out positive for the Marburg virus. Further analysis by the Institut Pasteur in Senegal confirmed the result.
“We applaud the alertness and the quick investigative action by Guinea’s health workers. 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. “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.”
An initial team of 10 WHO experts, including epidemiologists and socio-anthropologists is on the ground helping to investigate the case and supporting the national health authorities to swiftly step up emergency response, including risk assessment, disease surveillance, community mobilization, testing, clinical care, infection prevention as well as logistical support.
In Africa, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.