Marburg virus: First case of deadly Ebola-like virus has been detected

An ebola-like virus that has a fatality rate of up to 88% has been detected in Guinea.

Earlier this week, a man died after contracting the deadly Marburg virus in a remote village in Guinea, West Africa. Authorities are now monitoring the situation closely as he had contact with 155 other people.

What is the Marburg virus?

The Marburg virus was first identified in 1967, when two simultaneous outbreaks took place in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany and Belgrade, Serbia. The virus is part of the same family as the Ebola disease and like COVID, it is passed on from animals to humans. Similarly, it can spread through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that:

Once an individual is infected with the virus, Marburg can spread through human-to-human transmission 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.

Threat of the virus

Although WHO has classified the virus’ threat as low to the global community, they are still concerned as the fatality rate can range from 24% to a dangerous 88%. Furthermore, the organisation has stated that the disease has the potential to ‘spread far and wide’ and they’re particularly worried about it going across the borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

For now, WHO country head in Guinea Georges Ki-Zerbo says that the other 155 contacts have not shown any symptoms yet. He said in an interview:

There is no known secondary case…The contacts have been traced, and 155 people are under observation for three weeks.
It is active surveillance. The contacts are kept at home, isolated from other members of the family. They are visited every day to check on potential symptoms.

This is the first known case to be recorded in Guinea but since 1967 twelve sporadic outbreaks have been reported in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.

Risk to the UK

Currently, no cases have been reported in the UK and the Department of Health and Social care has confirmed to Metro.co.uk that the risk to the country is ‘very low.’ They said:

Public Health England is aware of the death of an individual with confirmed Marburg virus disease in Guinea and we are monitoring the situation closely in the event that there is further spread of the virus.
The risk to the UK population at this time is very low.
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