Marburg virus: another zoonosis transmitted by bats

Marburg virus: another zoonosis transmitted by bats

On July 27, the WHO announced two new positive cases of Marburg virus in Ghana, a hemorrhagic fever that resembles Ebola. It is also a zoonosis transmitted by bats. “The epidemic now totals 4 cases and 3 deaths” according to the director general of the WHO. The UN organization is in the process of evaluating new vaccines and therapeutic products. It should already propose a protocol this week to the Ghanaian authorities.

When Press conference held on July 27, the World Health Organization returned to the Monkeypox pandemicthe WHO director-general also said he wanted new vaccines in the form of nasal sprays that would be more effective against Covid-19 and there was also talk of studies published in Science which claim that Sars-Cov-2 appeared at the Huanan market in Wuhan after a double zoonotic infection.

WHO officials also addressed the developing Marbug virus outbreak in Ghana, as they had already done during the press conference organized on July 12. At the time, Dr. Tedros informed that there were “two suspected cases from Marburg”.

“Ghana is currently sending samples to the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal for verification. In the meantime, the Ministry of Health has implemented preventive surveys on contact tracing and preparedness in health establishments with the support of the WHO,” the WHO director-general said in a tweet published on Tuesday. same day.

The first carriers of the disease died at the end of June

These samples were from two patients who appeared in the southern Ashanti region of Ghana, who died. One was a 26-year-old man who presented to hospital on June 26, 2022. He died on June 27. The second was a 51-year-old man who presented to hospital on June 28. He died the same day. The two men had sought treatment at the same hospital a few days apart.

They both had symptoms including diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting. The lab quickly corroborated findings from the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, which suggested their illness was due to the Marburg virus.

A zoonosis resembling the Ebola virus

It is a highly contagious viral hemorrhagic fever from the same family as Ebola. Like him, it is a zoonosis. Marburb virus is transmitted through fruit bats and is spread among humans through direct contact with bodily fluids. Many patients develop severe bleeding signs within seven days. Case fatality rates range from 24% to 88%. This virus takes its name from the town of Marburg where it was discovered.

This is only the second time that this disease has been detected in West Africa. Guinea had confirmed a case on September 16, 2021. Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases of Marburg in Africa have been reported in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.

The system set up by the WHO in partnership with the health authorities of Ghana

Following the two cases declared in Ghana, the WHO immediately deployed experts, made protective equipment available, reinforced its surveillance system, by carrying out tests, by looking for possible contact cases and carried out an investigation in partnership with the Ghana Health Authorities in the Ashanti region.

More than 90 contacts, including health workers, have been identified and followed up.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti welcomed that “Health authorities (have) reacted quickly, taking a step ahead to prepare for a possible epidemic. This is good, because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily slip out of control”. “WHO is on the ground to support health authorities and now that the outbreak is declared, we are marshaling more resources for the response.”

On July 17, Dr Tédros said in a tweet that “The teams are supporting and will continue to work closely with the government and communities in Ghana to contain the first outbreak of Marburg in the country as quickly as possible.”

Two new cases reported end of July

On July 27, the Director General of WHO informed that “Two other people with Marburg” have been identified in Ghana, that they were not part of “the family of the first case” and that “One is unfortunately deceased “. “The epidemic now totals 4 cases and 3 deaths” declared Dr. Tédros before assuring that a “Extensive field investigation in progress”.

WHO Deputy Director General, Dr Soccé Fall confirmed “two additional cases of Marburg disease in Ghana”, but said that “One person is the wife of the previous case”. He specified that “180 contacts have been followed up, but there are still a good hundred more to follow up”.

WHO teams are seeking to better understand how people were infected. “A thorough investigation is underway and we are ensuring that all contacts are followed up, this is very important,” added Dr Soccé Fall.

According to him, “you have to be able to isolate contact persons to interrupt transmission, but this raises a number of problems”. “The wife of the other case could not yet be isolated and we now have three regions that are infected. »

Dr. Soccé Fall insists on the fact that “It is important that we can limit the number of hot spots, the number of outbreaks to stop this outbreak”.

WHO is identifying candidate vaccines and therapeutics

There is currently no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment for this virus, but supportive care (rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids) and treatment of specific symptoms improve survival.

The WHO says that “A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies, as well as candidate vaccines with phase 1 data are being evaluated”.

“We are working with colleagues, with researchers, as part of a consortium called Marburg, we have now identified all candidate vaccines and therapeutic products for this disease, in close collaboration with the developers. We are also collaborating with other research centers around the world, and we are in the process of finalizing the protocols to evaluate these vaccines and therapeutic products,” indicated Anna Maria Restrepo, from the WHO Emergency Programme.

According to her, “By the end of next week, we should have a protocol to present to the national authorities of Ghana for consideration”. “We are waiting to see the evolution of this outbreak, but regardless, we are ready to evaluate vaccines and therapeutics, if necessary. »

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