Everything You Need to Know About Marburg Virus and Yes, Bats Are Involved

Everything You Need to Know About Marburg Virus and Yes, Bats Are Involved

As you may have heard at this point, Ghana has officially reported its first cases of the Marburg virus disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has responded to the news, confirming it is responding quickly to the disease and preparing for a possible outbreak in the region.

As the Guardian reports, previous cases of the Marburg virus have been reported in Guinea in September 2021, along with in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.

If the news of the Marburg virus’ arrival into Ghana has you wondering what this illness is, here is a quick guide.

What is the Marburg virus disease?

Per the WHO, the Marburg virus is a particularly dangerous illness that “causes haemorrhagic fever, with a fatality ratio of up to 88%” (this stat does vary between 24 and 88%, however). It is in the same family of viruses as Ebola, hence the WHO’s concern.

The org states that most initial cases of Marburg virus disease come when people have spent extended periods exposed to “mines or caves inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies”.

Once an individual is infected with the illness, the virus can be transmitted between humans “via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids”.

The virus was initially found in 1967 in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany and Belgrade in Serbia after researchers had been working with African green monkeys from Uganda.

What are the symptoms?

The WHO states that severe symptoms tend to come on rather quickly with the Marburg virus.

Examples include high fever, intense headaches, muscle aches and pains, lethargy and diarrhoea for up to a week. Rash and internal and external bleeding have also been reported.

It’s a particularly nasty virus, that’s for sure.

Marburg virus vaccines

While there is no specified treatment for the virus, the WHO has stated, as the ABC reports, that treatment of certain symptoms – like rehydration – can improve a patient’s outcome.

The WHO also recently called for an urgent meeting regarding vaccine research and treatment for the illness. So, watch this space.

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