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First suspected cases of highly infectious Ebola-like virus detected in Ghana


This is the Marburg virus, a hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola.

The Ghanaian health authorities have announced the preliminary finding of two patients with the Marburg virus, a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola, and, if confirmed, would be the first cases of this type registered in the African country, according to a statement published this Thursday by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Based on initial analysis of samples taken by researchers at Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, both individuals tested positive. However, the samples have been sent to the Pasteur Institute of Senegal, a WHO collaborating center, to be analyzed again.

The two patients lived in the southern region of Ashanti and there was no relation between them. After presenting symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting, they were taken to a hospital, but later died.

If these cases are confirmed, it would be the second time that this disease has been detected in West Africa. Last August, an individual died after contracting the Marburg virus in Guinea. Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have also been reported in other parts of the continent including Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.

“Possible outbreak response”

“The health authorities are on the ground investigating the situation and preparing for a possible response to the outbreak,” said Dr. Francis Kasolo, WHO Representative in Ghana. “We are working closely with the country to increase detection, contact tracing and be prepared to control the spread of the virus,” he added.

The Marburg virus is transmitted to people via fruit bats and is spread among humans through direct contact with bodily fluids from infected people, surfaces, and materials. The disease begins abruptly, with high fever, severe headache and malaise, and many patients develop severe bleeding signs within seven days.

Case fatality rates have ranged from 24% to 88% in previous outbreaks, depending on virus strain and case management. Currently, there are no vaccines or approved antiviral treatments to counteract the virus, but supportive care, such as rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, and treatment of specific symptoms contribute to survival.

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