Ghana Declares First Cases of Deadly Marburg Virus

The highly infectious virus is part of the same disease family as Ebola and has a fatality rate between 24 and 88 percent.
Dipo Faloyin
London, GB
Electron micrograph of the Marburg Virus.
Electron micrograph of the Marburg Virus. Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

Ghana has confirmed its first two cases of the deadly Marburg virus. 

The virus, part of the same disease family as Ebola, is highly infectious and spreads through direct contact with surfaces, bodily fluids and materials. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “fatality rates have varied from 24 percent to 88 percent in past outbreaks depending on virus strain and the quality of case management.”

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The two identified male patients – a 26-year-old and a 51-year-old – died shortly after being admitted to the same hospital. As a precaution, around 100 people in Ghana, including healthcare workers, have been placed in quarantine after being identified through contact tracing. 

“Health authorities have responded swiftly, getting a head start preparing for a possible outbreak,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement. “This is good because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand. WHO is on the ground supporting health authorities and now that the outbreak is declared, we are marshalling more resources for the response.” 

This is only the second time the virus has ever been detected in West Africa; a single case was found in Guinea last year, but the outbreak was declared over five weeks later. 

However, in 2005, Angola suffered a far more deadly Marburg outbreak that killed over 200 people. 

There are currently no approved vaccines for the virus, but other treatments include immune and drug therapies.