On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a child recently died in Ghana after contracting the Marburg virus, bringing to three the deaths from the outbreak declared in this African country since July 17.
In the past week, this viral illness was detected in the deceased child and a woman, bringing the number of confirmed positives to four, said Ibrahima Soce Fall, deputy director of WHO Emergency Response.
Outbreaks and sporadic cases of this disease have previously been detected in other countries such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.
Marburg virus disease is as deadly as Ebola and is estimated to have killed over 3,500 Africans. Like Ebola, it causes sudden bleeding and can cause death within a few days. It has an incubation period of 2 to 21 days and a mortality rate of between 24 and 88 percent.
“Human infection with Marburg virus disease initially results from prolonged exposure to mines or caves inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies,” the WHO said.
“Once an individual is infected with the virus, Marburg can spread through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.”
The disease, for which there is no vaccine or specific treatment, was detected in 1967 in the German city of Marburg by laboratory technicians who were infected while investigating monkeys brought from Uganda.