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Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Nine killed as Equatorial Guinea confirms country's first ever Marburg virus outbreak

Equatorial Guinea has confirmed its first-ever outbreak of the Marburg virus disease.


Marburg virus is a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever in the same family as Ebola. It is spread to people by fruit bats and transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected people and surfaces. Illness begins abruptly and many patients develop severe haemorrhagic signs within seven days. 

There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus.

A statement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Equatorial Guinea's confirmation came after preliminary tests carried out following the deaths of nine people in the country's western Kie Ntem province turned out positive for the virus.


The organisation said after an alert by a district health official on February 7, the country's authorities sent samples to the Institut Pasteur reference laboratory in Senegal, to determine the cause of the disease.


It said one out of the eight samples tested at Institut Pasteur, turned out positive for the virus.


So far, nine deaths and 16 suspected cases with symptoms including fever, fatigue, and blood-stained vomit and diarrhea have been reported, the statement reads.

Further investigations are ongoing. Advance teams have been deployed in the affected districts to trace contacts, isolate and provide medical care to people showing symptoms of the disease.


Efforts are also underway to rapidly mount an emergency response, with WHO deploying health emergency experts in epidemiology, case management, infection prevention, laboratory, and risk communication to support the national response efforts and secure community collaboration in outbreak control.


WHO is also facilitating the shipment of laboratory glove tents for sample testing as well as one viral haemorrhagic fever kit that includes personal protective equipment that can be used by 500 health workers.


Equatorial Guinea had reportedly earlier quarantined more than 200 people and restricted movement following the death of at least eight people from an illness causing hemorrhagic fever.

The deaths were said to have been linked to people who all took part in a funeral ceremony.


Commenting on the situation, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said thanks to the rapid and decisive action by the Equatorial Guinean authorities in confirming the disease.


Moeti said the emergency response could get on quickly so that an end can be brought to the virus as soon as possible.


The development comes four months after Ghana declared an end to its Marburg virus outbreak with three confirmed cases including two deaths recorded.

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