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All you need to know about Marburg virus

By Nneka Nwogwugwu

The first known case of the Ebola-like Marburg virus in West Africa has been discovered in a remote village in Guinea.

At least 155 people have been traced as contacts of the poor man who died in his community – near the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The virus, which has a fatality rate of up to 88%, has the potential to spread ‘far and wide’, according to the World Health Organisation.

WHO’s regional director for Africa said: ‘The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks.’

The Marburg virus is part of the same family as the Ebola disease.

Like coronavirus, it is generally passed on from animal to human but it can spread between humans through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

People can get infected after spending too much time in mines or caves where rousettus bat colonies (fruit bats) live.

Once one person has it, they can pass it on to others with their blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids.

This can happen with direct contact or close contacts.

The virus is named after the German town Marburg – where it was first detected in 1967. That same outbreak also reached the central German city of Frankfurt and Belgrade in Serbia.

Although this is where the disease was first recognised, health experts believe it originated in Uganda, East Africa, and travelled to Germany with African green monkeys used in laboratory work.

There have since been 12 more outbreaks around the world, with the most recent one hitting the Kween district in Uganda in 2017.

The disease’s fatality rate can range from 24% to 88% and its average is usually around 55%.

The symptoms are:

•             High fever

•             Severe headache

•             Severe watery diarrhoea

•             Abdominal pain

•             Cramping

•             Nausea

•             Vomiting

•             Extreme lethargy

•             Non-itchey rash

•             Deep-set eyes

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