The World Health Organization said on Monday that Guinea confirmed a case of Marburg disease, the first recorded in West Africa of the lethal virus that’s related to Ebola and, like Covid-19, passed from animal hosts to humans. The virus, which is carried by bats and has a fatality rate of up to 88 percent, was found in samples taken from a patient who died on August 2 in southern Gueckedou prefecture, the WHO said.
“The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. In Geneva, the WHO said it considered the threat “high” at the national and regional level, but “low” globally. The Guinean government confirmed the Marburg case in a statement and the cross-border surveillance has also been stepped up so that possible cases can be quickly detected. Marburg virus is usually associated with exposure to caves or mines housing colonies of Rousettus bats. Once caught by a human, it is spread through contact with bodily fluids of infected people, or with contaminated surfaces and materials, according to the WHO. Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But this is the first time the virus has been detected in West Africa. The disease begins suddenly, with a high fever, severe headache and discomfort.