Marburg Virus: Nigeria At Low Risk, Says NCDC
Nigeria is at low odds of an outbreak of the Marburg virus, the Federal Government disclosed on Friday.
Marburg, a highly dangerous pathogen that causes haemorrhagic fever, was first identified in Germany in 1967 and was recently confirmed in Guinea.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that the government is closely monitoring the situation.
“We are very aware and it tells us that we have to always be on our guard here. We set up a risk analysis team yesterday, evaluated the risk for Nigeria. It is low at the moment,” he said.
“What we did is to make sure that we have the facilities to detect this if there were to be a suspect case. We are watching out for travel and working with our colleagues in the Port Health Services to look at the travel history of individuals that travel.”
The NCDC boss explained that the agency is working with the West Africa health organisation and Africa’s Centre for Disease Control to provide the needed support to combat the deadly virus.
Doing ‘The Simple Things’
When asked what roles Nigerians could play to avoid the spread of the virus, Ihekweazu advised on simple preventive measures.
“We need to learn to do the simple things while not losing the beautiful aspect of our culture that mingle us together,” he added.
“Right now, if it is our culture to have a big ceremony as a wedding that put together thousands of people into an enclosed space, the fact is that within the context of COVID that will expose you and your guest to significant risk.
“You have to mitigate those risks by limiting the number of people you are inviting, insisting on masks wearing, insist on a certain level of distancing. There is a conflict between our culture at the moment and the threat that we face.”
According to past outbreaks, the average fatality rate is 50 per cent, in a range of 24-88 per cent.
The virus is part of the so-called filovirus family to which the Ebola virus also belongs.
It takes its name from the German city of Marburg where it was first identified in a lab where workers had been in contact with infected green monkeys that had been imported from Uganda.