WHO Confirms Marburg Virus Outbreak in Equatorial Guinea, NCDC Issues Risk Assessment for Nigeria
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed an outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD) in Equatorial Guinea for the first time. Nine deaths and 16 suspected cases have already been reported, with symptoms including fever, fatigue, blood-stained vomit and diarrhoea. Nigeria is at moderate risk of importing the virus into the country, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC).
Cameroonian authorities reported two suspected cases of Marburg disease in Olamze, a commune on the border with Equatorial Guinea, on February 13. To limit the risk of spread, the small central African country quarantined more than 200 people and restricted movement in its Kie-Ntem province.
Health authorities from Equatorial Guinea sent samples to the Institut Pasteur reference laboratory in Senegal with support from the WHO to determine the cause of the disease. Of the eight samples tested, one was positive for the Marburg virus.
The NCDC advises Nigerian citizens and residents to avoid all but essential travels to Equatorial Guinea at this time. Persons with recent travel history to or transit through Equatorial Guinea within the past 21 days who experience symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, sore throat, diarrhoea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising should not go to any health facility but call 6232 or their State Ministry of Health hotline immediately for assessment and testing.
According to the risk assessment conducted by the NCDC, Nigeria is equipped with the technical, human (health workforce), and diagnostic capabilities to efficiently manage a MVD outbreak. However, there is no specific treatment or approved vaccine for MVD.
A Spanish hospital has reportedly isolated a patient suspected of being infected with the lethal Marburg virus. Dr Sophon Iamsirithavorn, Deputy Director-General of the Disease Control Department (DDC), pointed out that although Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Coronavirus Disease (MVD) has yet to be identified in Thailand, it is still listed as one of the 13 most hazardous infectious diseases in the Infectious Diseases Act.
Direct contact can cause the transmission of the Marburg virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that possible ways of transmitting the virus include direct contact of the skin or mucous membranes with blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of an infected individual, as well as contact with contaminated surfaces and materials.
In conclusion, the WHO is increasing its epidemiological surveillance in Equatorial Guinea while Cameroon has restricted movement along the border to try to avoid contagion.
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