The announcement comes after two unrelated patients from Ghana’s southern Ashanti region, both of whom later died, tested positive for the virus.
The WHO said the patients had symptoms including diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting, adding that more than 90 contacts are being monitored.
Marburg is a highly contagious viral haemorrhagic fever in the same family as the better known Ebola virus disease and has a fatality rate of up to 88% according to the WHO. “The disease begins suddenly, with a high fever, severe headache and malaise,” the report says.
The virus is transmitted to humans from bats, and then can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact with the body fluids of infected people or surfaces and materials contaminated with these fluids, the WHO explained.
The global health authority said containment measures were being taken and that additional resources would be deployed in response to the outbreak in Ghana. The WHO also warned that “without immediate and decisive action, Marburg could easily spiral out of control.”
There are no approved vaccines or antivirals for Marburg virus. However, a patient’s chances of survival can be improved with care, including oral or intravenous rehydration and treatment of specific symptoms, the WHO said.
According to the WHO, countries at increased risk of a re-emergence of the virus have been contacted “and are on alert.”