Deadly Marburg bat virus spreads in Ghana

Authorities have warned of two cases of infection with the deadly bat-borne Marburg virus in the new country.

Two cases of the deadly Marburg virus have been identified in Ghana, the first time an Ebola-like illness has been detected in a West African country, health authorities announced Sunday.

Earlier this month, blood samples taken from two people in the southern Ashanti region showed the presence of the Marburg virus.

The samples were sent to the Pasteur Institute in Senegal, which confirmed the diagnosis, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said.

“This is the first time that Ghana has confirmed Marburg virus disease,” GHS head Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said in a statement.

There is no cure or vaccine for Marburg, which is nearly as deadly as Ebola. Its symptoms include high fever and internal and external bleeding.

The GHS said in a statement that a total of 98 people identified as contacts are currently in quarantine, noting that no other cases of Marburg disease have been identified in Ghana so far.

WHO said Guinea has confirmed one case of the outbreak declared in September 2021.

According to the World Health Organization, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases of Marburg fever in Africa have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.

Marburg virus can be transmitted from infected animals, including bats.

“Therefore, the public is advised to avoid caves inhabited by bat colonies and to ‘thoroughly’ cook all meat products before consumption,” Ghana’s health authorities advised.

In addition, all persons who have been in contact with the sick, including medical personnel, must self-isolate.

Viral disease strikes patients suddenly, with high fever and severe headaches. Mortality rates for confirmed cases have ranged from 24 percent to 88 percent in previous outbreaks, according to the WHO, depending on the virus strain and case management.

Originally published as Deadly Marburg bat virus spreads in Ghana