The cases were identified in two individuals in the country’s southern Ashanti region, whose blood samples, taken earlier this month, suggested that they had the virus. According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the samples were subsequently taken to the Pasteur Institute in Senegal, who confirmed the diagnosis.
In response to the identification of the cases, 98 people who had been identified as contact cases were placed under quarantine. No subsequent cases of Marburg have so far been detected in Ghana since the first two.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, health authorities have responded well to the cases, getting a strong head start in preparing for any potential outbreaks.
“This is good because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand. WHO is on the ground supporting health authorities and now that the outbreak is declared, we are marshalling more resources for the response,” he added.
Marburg is a horrible virus, but relatively rare
Ghanaian health authorities have advised that the public avoid caves inhabited by bat colonies and to cook all meat products thoroughly before consumption. In addition, anyone identified as having been in contact with sufferers, including medical staff, should self-isolate.
Marburg is a disease which can result in symptoms such as a high fever, headaches as well as internal and external bleeding. It can be spread from infected animals such as bats, and has no known treatments or vaccines. It has demonstrated a fatality rate in confirmed cases of between 24 per cent and 88 per cent during previous outbreaks, depending on the virus strain and case management.
The disease is largely localised to central and southern Africa – however large outbreaks are comparatively rare. For example, a recent occurrence of the virus in Guinea in August-September 2021 saw only one case identified.