Marburg Virus Disease Detected in West Africa for First Time
Marburg Virus Disease Detected in West Africa for First Time

Marburg Virus Disease Detected in West Africa for First Time

The finding of the Ebola-like disease, which killed a man in Guinea, has prompted public health measures.

Shawna Williams
Aug 10, 2021

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Update (September 20): Guinea’s Ministry of Health officially declared the Marburg outbreak over on September 16, according to a WHO announcement. No further cases of the virus had been identified, and investigators are still trying to determine the source of the infection.

Update (August 31): As of yesterday, the WHO has found no additional cases of Marburg in Guinea, STAT’s Helen Branswell reports on Twitter.

A man who died August 2 in Guéckédou Prefecture, Guinea, has been confirmed to have had Marburg virus disease, the World Health Organization announced yesterday. The case marks the first time the highly virulent, Ebola-like virus has been found infecting a person in West Africa. Previous outbreaks of Marburg virus disease, which is spread through contact with the body fluids of infected people or animals, have occurred mainly in eastern and southern Africa, according to The Guardian. 

See “Bats in Sierra Leone Carry Marburg Virus” 

Guéckédou Prefecture has been the origin of some previous Ebola outbreaks, The Guardian reports. The region borders Liberia and Sierra Leone. According to The Washington Post, Guinea has ordered 155 people into quarantine in response to the case, although only three are considered at a high risk of having contracted the virus based on their contact with the man. 

“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,” says Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, in the WHO statement. “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.” 

According to the WHO, symptoms of Marburg include fever and severe headache. In previous outbreaks, fatality rates for infected people have ranged from 24 percent to 88 percent.