Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Health has confirmed eight more cases of Marburg, bringing the number of confirmed cases to nine since the outbreak of the viral haemorrhagic fever was declared on February 13.
The new cases were confirmed following laboratory analysis of additional samples. So far, there are 20 probable cases and 20 deaths. The new cases have been reported from Kie Ntem in the east, Litoral in the country’s west, and Centro Sur provinces, all with international borders with Cameroon and Gabon. The areas reporting cases are about 150 kilometres apart, suggesting wider transmission of the virus.
“The confirmation of these new cases is a critical signal to scale up response efforts to quickly stop the chain of transmission and avert a potential large-scale outbreak and loss of life,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Word Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “Marburg is highly virulent but can be effectively controlled and halted by promptly deploying a broad range of outbreak response measures.”
WHO is working with the national authorities to step up emergency response measures by enhancing disease surveillance, testing, clinical care, infection prevention and control, as well as carrying out further epidemiological investigations and bolstering public awareness to help curb infection spread.
Additional experts in epidemiology, logistics, health operations and infection prevention and control from WHO will be deployed in the coming days. The Organization is also supporting the health authorities in neighbouring Cameroon and Gabon to ramp up outbreak readiness and response.
Marburg is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces and materials. The disease is highly virulent and causes haemorrhagic fever, with a fatality ratio of up to 88%. It is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola virus disease.
There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus. However, supportive care – rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids – and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival.