Guinea has declared an end to the Marburg virus disease outbreak after discovering no new cases over the past 42-day incubation period, or the time between infection and the onset of symptoms.
The virus outbreak, which was confirmed on August 9 marked the first time the disease emerged in the country and in West Africa. Only the index patient who was diagnosed with the virus posthumously, was recorded and more than 170 high-risk contacts monitored for 21 days.
Marburg, a highly infectious virus that causes haemorrhagic fever, was detected in southern Guinea. The country’s health authorities, with support from World Health Organization (WHO), promptly mounted emergency response, deploying expert teams to carry out further investigations, surveillance, testing as well as infection prevention and control measures.
According to the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, without immediate and decisive action, highly infectious diseases like Marburg can easily get out of hand. She promised that WHO will continue to support Guinea in its efforts to remain vigilant, maintain surveillance and build capacity to respond quickly to a possible resurgence of the virus.
Scientists are already deepening investigations into the source of the Marburg outbreak, including analysis on bats as well as undertaking serological surveys to not only help understand how the virus emerged, but also help prevent potential future outbreaks.
Marburg, which also exists in the same family as Ebola, is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces and materials.
Although there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus, supportive care and treatment of specific symptoms the improves survival chances. A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are also being analysed.
This is not the first time that such outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Africa. It has happened in places like Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.