Ebola Deaths In Uganda Climb To Seven

This file photo taken on June 28, 2014, shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

The death toll from an Ebola outbreak in Uganda has risen to seven, the health ministry said Friday, after President Yoweri Museveni ruled out a lockdown to contain the highly contagious virus.

Authorities declared an outbreak in the central district of Mubende last week, the East African nation’s first Ebola fatality  since 2019.

On Friday, the health ministry shared a graphic on Twitter showing that the cumulative deaths were now seven, up from five on Wednesday, while the total number of confirmed cases had reached 35.

In a televised press briefing on Wednesday, Museveni said some 19 others classified as probable Ebola cases had also died, but said they were buried before they could be tested for infection.

Since the initial outbreak was discovered in Mubende, infections have been found in three other districts — Kassanda, Kyegegwa and Kagadi — but Museveni vowed not to cordon off the affected regions.

“We decided that we shall not have lockdowns. It is not necessary,” the 78-year-old leader said, telling Ugandans that there was “no need for anxiety”.

Ebola is an often-fatal viral haemorrhagic fever named after a river in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where it was discovered in 1976.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.

People who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days.

At present there is no licensed medication to prevent or treat Ebola, although a range of experimental drugs are in development.

Uganda, which shares a porous border with the DRC, has experienced several Ebola outbreaks, most recently in 2019 when at least five people died.

The DRC on Tuesday declared an end to an Ebola virus outbreak that emerged in eastern North Kivu province six weeks ago.

Only one case of the virus had been confirmed, according to the World Health Organization, making the DRC’s Ebola outbreak its “least catastrophic”.

The worst epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 alone. The DRC has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest killing 2,280 people in 2020.

AFP

Uganda Confirms Six More Cases Of Ebola, One Death

This file photo taken on August 15, 2014 shows an MSF medical workers checking their protective clothing in a mirror at an MSF facility in Kailahun, epicentre of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak.
CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Six new cases of Ebola have been found in Uganda, the World Health Organization said Thursday after the country reported its first fatality from the highly contagious virus since 2019.

Uganda’s health ministry declared an Ebola outbreak in the central district of Mubende on Tuesday, announcing the death of a 24-year-old man.

“So far, seven cases, including one death, have been confirmed to have contracted the Sudan ebolavirus,” the WHO said in a statement, referring to a relatively rare strain of the virus.

“Forty-three contacts have been identified and 10 people suspected to have caught the virus are receiving treatment at the regional referral hospital in Mubende,” it said.

READ ALSO: Gates Foundation Announces $100m Fund To Alleviate Food Crisis In Africa, Asia

“Our experts are already on the ground working with Uganda’s experienced Ebola control teams to reinforce surveillance, diagnosis, treatment, and preventive measures,” said Abdou Salam Gueye, regional emergency director with the WHO Regional Office for Africa.

Uganda — which shares a porous border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — has experienced several Ebola outbreaks in the past, most recently in 2019, when at least five people died.

The DRC last month recorded a new case in its violence-wracked east, less than six weeks after an epidemic in the country’s northwest was declared over.

Ebola is an often fatal viral haemorrhagic fever. The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

First identified in 1976 in the DRC (then Zaire), the virus, whose natural host is the bat, has since set off a series of epidemics in Africa, killing around 15,000 people.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments.

People who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days.

At present, there is no licensed medication to prevent or treat Ebola, although a range of experimental drugs are in development and thousands have been vaccinated in the DRC and some neighbouring countries.

The worst epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 alone. The DRC has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest killing 2,280 people in 2020.

AFP

Monkeypox: How A Global Health Emergency Is Decided

(FILES) This file photo taken on July 12, 2022 shows a vial of smallpox/monkeypox vaccine during a vaccination event at the Pride Center in Wilton Manors, Florida.  (Photo by JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

 

 

A Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) is the rarely used top alert available to the World Health Organization to tackle a global disease outbreak.

The WHO on Saturday declared the surge in monkeypox to be a PHEIC after experts reviewed the situation at an emergency committee meeting two days earlier.

Here is a look at how the decision is made and previous PHEIC declarations:

– What is a PHEIC? –
The conditions which must be met are set out under the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR) — the legal framework defining countries’ rights and obligations in handling public health events that could cross borders.

A PHEIC is defined in the regulations as “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response”.

The definition implies that the situation is serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected, carries implications for public health beyond an affected country’s border, and may require immediate international action.

– Emergency committee –
The WHO’s 16-member emergency committee on monkeypox is chaired by Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is a former director of the WHO’s Vaccines and Immunisation Department.

The committee brings together virologists, vaccinologists, epidemiologists and experts in the fight against major diseases.

It is co-chaired by Nicola Low, an associate professor of epidemiology and public health medicine from Bern University.

The other 14 members are from institutions in Brazil, Britain, Japan, Morocco, Nigeria, Russia, Senegal, Switzerland, Thailand and the United States.

Eight advisers from Canada, the DRC, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States also take part in the meetings.

– Decision –
The emergency committee provided WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus with an assessment of the risk to human health, the risk of international spread and the risk of interference with international traffic.

But it was unable to reach a consensus on whether or not to trigger the highest alert, Tedros said Saturday, so the WHO chief then had to decide himself.

Six previous PHEICS –
The WHO has previously declared a PHEIC six times:

2009: H1N1 swine flu

The pandemic was first detected in Mexico and then quickly spread across the United States and the rest of the world.

May 2014: Poliovirus

Declared following a rise in cases of wild polio and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus. Besides Covid, it is the only PHEIC still in place.

August 2014: Ebola

Outbreak in western Africa which spread to Europe and the United States.

February 2016: Zika virus

The epidemic began in Brazil and heavily affected the Americas. The only PHEIC declared over a mosquito-borne virus.

July 2019: Ebola

The second Ebola PHEIC was over the outbreak in Kivu in eastern DRC.

January 2020: Covid-19

Declared when — outside of China where the virus first emerged — there were fewer than 100 cases and no deaths.

Covid-19 frustrations

The Covid-19 PHEIC declaration came after a third meeting of the emergency committee on the spreading virus. Meetings on January 22 and 23, 2020 decided that the outbreak did not constitute a PHEIC.

Despite the declaration, it was only after March 11, that Tedros described the rapidly worsening situation as a pandemic, leading many countries to wake up to the danger.

The sluggish global response still rankles at the WHO’s headquarters and raised questions about whether the PHEIC system under IHR was fit for purpose.

By March 11, the number of cases outside China had soared, with more than 118,000 people having caught the disease in 114 countries, and 4,291 people having lost their lives, following a jump in deaths in Italy and Iran.

“The warning in January was way more important than the announcement in March,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said on the second anniversary of the pandemic declaration.

“People weren’t listening. We were ringing the bell and people weren’t acting.

DR Congo Declares End To Latest Ebola Outbreak

File Photo by CELLOU BINANI / AFP)

 

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo declared its latest Ebola outbreak over on Monday, the World Health Organization said, more than two months after the virus re-emerged in the country’s northwest.

Health authorities in the vast central African nation declared an epidemic on April 23 in Mbandaka, in the northwestern Equateur province.

There were four confirmed cases and one probable case — all of whom died, the WHO said on Monday.

The previous outbreak in the forested province, from June to November 2020, claimed 55 lives.

WHO’s regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said in the statement that the authorities reacted rapidly, limiting the spread of Ebola with a vaccination campaign four days after the start of the outbreak.

“Crucial lessons have been learned from past outbreaks and they have been applied to devise and deploy an ever more effective Ebola response”.

Ebola is an often-fatal viral haemorrhagic fever that was first identified in central Africa in 1976. The disease was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

The DRC’s latest outbreak marks the 14th since 1976, according to the WHO. Six of those outbreaks have occurred since 2018.

DR Congo Starts Vaccination Against Ebola Outbreak

This file photo taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated.  CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday launched a vaccination campaign after two people died of Ebola in the northwestern town of Mbandaka, the World Health Organization’s Africa office announced.

It’s the 14th outbreak of the killer virus in the country since 1976, including six since 2018.

“Over the years, with the support of WHO and other partners and donors, the country has developed homegrown expertise capable of mounting effective Ebola response,” said a statement from the UN’s health arm.

“With effective vaccines at hand and the experience of the Democratic Republic of the Congo health workers in Ebola response, we can quickly change the course of this outbreak for the better,” said WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti.

READ ALSOOver One Million Children In Africa Have Taken Malaria Vaccine – WHO

Some 200 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine have been shipped to Mbandaka, in Equator province, from the eastern city of Goma, with more doses to be delivered in the coming days.

The vaccination campaign uses the “ring strategy” where all contacts of confirmed Ebola patients, and contacts of contacts are jabbed along with frontline and health workers.

The first of the two confirmed deaths concerned a young man who died in hospital on April 21.

WHO said so far 233 contacts have been identified around Mbandaka and are being monitored.

A 20-bed Ebola treatment centre has also been set up in the town.

Ebola killed 55 people out of 130 registered cases at Mbandaka in 2020.

Experts say that since 2018 Ebola epidemics have become cyclical from April to June in Equator province and over the following months in the northeastern provinces of Kivu and Ituri.

Last year nine people died from Ebola out of 11 cases in North-Kivu’s Beni city.

Ebola is a viral haemorrhagic fever that was first identified in central Africa in 1976. The disease was named after a river in the DR Congo, then known as Zaire.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.

AFP

DR Congo Confirms New Ebola Case

This file photo taken on August 15, 2014 shows an MSF medical workers checking their protective clothing in a mirror at an MSF facility in Kailahun, epicentre of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak.
CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

 

A new case of the Ebola virus has been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country’s health officials said. 

The new case was confirmed in Mbandaka, a city in the north-western Equateur Province. This is the third outbreak in the province since 2018.

The 31-year-old patient began showing symptoms of the disease on April 5 after staying more than a week at home, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa, explained.

But on 21 April, the patient was admitted to an Ebola treatment centre for intensive care. He died later that day, prompting health workers to immediately begin the submission of samples to test for the Ebola virus disease.

“Time is not on our side,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.

“The disease has had a two-week head start and we are now playing catch-up. The positive news is that health authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have more experience than anyone else in the world at controlling Ebola outbreaks quickly.”

The country is experiencing its fourteenth Ebola outbreak since 1976. The present one is the sixth since 2018. Previous outbreaks in Equateur Province were in 2020 and 2018, with 130 and 54 reported cases respectively.

Efforts to curb the spread of the disease including vaccination are being ramped up. Vaccines will be sent to Mbandaka and administered via the ‘ring vaccination strategy.

“Many people in Mbandaka are already vaccinated against Ebola, which should help reduce the impact of the disease,” said Dr Moeti.

“All those who were vaccinated during the 2020 outbreak will be revaccinated.”

Ebola is a viral haemorrhagic fever that was first identified in central Africa in 1976. The disease was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding, and diarrhoea.

DR Congo Records New Ebola Case Five Months After Last Outbreak

In this file photo taken on June 13, 2017, a health worker walks at an Ebola quarantine unit in Muma, after a case of Ebola was confirmed in the village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. JOHN WESSELS / AFP

 

One Ebola case has been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo, five months after the latest epidemic of the disease in the country was declared over, the government said on Friday.

“The case concerns a three-year-old boy who was hospitalised and died on October 6,” the health ministry said in a statement, adding that the case was in Beni, in North Kivu province.

A sample taken from the child was sent to Goma, the provincial capital, and was found to be positive.

Teams on the ground are working to trace and monitor around 100 contacts, as well as decontaminate health facilities, the ministry said.

READ ALSO: 51 Dead, Scores Missing As Makeshift Vessel Sinks In DR Congo

“Thanks to the experience gained in the management of the Ebola virus disease during previous epidemics, we are confident that the response teams… will manage to control this epidemic as soon as possible,” the statement said.

In early May, the DRC declared the end of its 12th Ebola outbreak, during which 12 cases were reported, with six deaths and hundreds of people vaccinated.

The disease had reappeared in February in an area of North Kivu that between August 2018 and June 2020 experienced the largest outbreak of Ebola in the history of the DRC — with 3,470 infections and 2,287 deaths.

Ebola is a viral haemorrhagic fever that was first identified in central Africa in 1976. The disease was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire.

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding, and diarrhoea.

Guinea Declares End Of Marburg Virus Outbreak, Says WHO

A picture of the billboard of the World Health Organization (WHO)

 

Guinea has declared the end of an outbreak of the Marburg virus, which belongs to the same family as Ebola, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

Health authorities in the country confirmed West Africa’s first recorded case of Marburg on August 9, in a man whose infection was detected after he had died a week earlier.

No treatment or vaccine exists for Marburg, which belongs to the same filovirus family as Ebola and is somewhat less deadly.

Its symptoms include high fever and internal and external bleeding.

To prevent the spread of the virus, Guinean health authorities began monitoring the Marburg victim’s contact cases.

The WHO said in a statement that no other cases had been detected since, and the outbreak is over.

“Without immediate and decisive action, highly infectious diseases like Marburg can easily get out of hand,” the statement quoted WHO Africa director Matshidiso Moeti as saying.

She added that Guinea’s growing expertise in responding to viral outbreaks had prevented a “spillover” and saved lives.

A poor nation of 13 million people, Guinea was hit hard by the 2013-16 West African Ebola outbreak, which killed about 2,300 people in the country.

Ebola resurfaced in northeastern Guinea in February, killing 12 people, before that outbreak was declared over in June.

AFP

‘No Evidence’ Woman In Cote d’ Ivoire Had Ebola – WHO

This file photo taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated.  CELLOU BINANI / AFP

 

There is “no evidence” that a Guinean woman who tested positive for Ebola after arriving in neighbouring Ivory Coast had the disease, the WHO said on Tuesday citing a new analysis from a lab in France.

Her diagnosis in mid-August was thought to be the first confirmed case of Ebola in the west African country since 1994.

The diagnoses sparked a huge contact-tracing operation by the World Health Organization and Ivorian medics started a vaccination campaign targeting those who were in immediate contact with the woman.

The 18-year-old had travelled to Abidjan by bus from Labe in northern Guinea, a journey of about 1,500 kilometres (950 miles) that passes through a densely forested region where Ebola epidemics broke out earlier this year and in 2013-16.

“With the new results from the laboratory in Lyon WHO considers that the patient did not have Ebola virus disease and further analysis on the cause of her illness is ongoing,” the UN’s health agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: [COVID-19] FG Considers Action Against People Who Refuse Vaccines Nigeria Confirms 626 COVID-19 Cases As FG Warns Vaccine Skeptics
South Africa Scientists Monitoring New COVID-19 Variant

Cote d’Ivoire Records First Case Of Ebola

This file photo taken on August 15, 2014 shows an MSF medical workers checking their protective clothing in a mirror at an MSF facility in Kailahun, epicentre of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak.
CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

 

The WHO said it had been informed of the new results by the Ivorian government.

It added that after more than 140 contacts of the woman had been traced, nobody else had shown symptoms of the disease or tested positive.

The case sparked a row between the two countries after Guinea requested reconfirmation of her positive test, pushing Ivorian officials to defend the diagnosis.

Ebola, which is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, is a fatal viral disease that causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.

AFP

Cote d’Ivoire Records First Case Of Ebola

This file photo taken on August 15, 2014 shows an MSF medical worker checking their protective clothing in a mirror at an MSF facility in Kailahun, epicentre of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak.  CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Cote d’Ivoire has recorded a first case of Ebola, the health minister announced late Saturday, the first occurrence of the deadly disease in nearly three decades.

Officials at the Institut Pasteur had confirmed the case after testing samples taken from an 18-year-old Guinean woman, Health Minister Pierre N’Gou Demba said on RTI state television.

She had left the city of Labe in Guinea by road, arriving in Ivory Coast on Wednesday, he added.

“This is an isolated and imported case,” he said, adding that the patient was currently being treated in intensive care in Abidjan.

Ivory Coast already had doses of the vaccine against Ebola, which go to anyone who had been in contact with her, such as the medical staff treating her.

Prime Minister Patrick Achi had chaired an emergency inter-ministerial meeting earlier Saturday, the minister added.

Appealing for calm, he said the authorities had already activated an emergency plan which included the identification and surveillance of anyone who had come into contact with the patient.

According to the World Health Organisation, this is the first case of Ebola in Ivory Coast since 1994.


READ ALSO: [Factfile] The Marburg Virus, Ebola’s Deadly Cousin

READ ALSO: First West African Case Of Deadly Marburg Virus Detected


 

 ‘Immense concern’ 

In this file photo taken on March 09, 2019 Health workers are seen inside the ‘red zone’ of an Ebola treatment centre, which was attacked in the early hours of the morning in Butembo.(Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

 

On June 19, the World Health Organization declared an end to a four-month outbreak of Ebola in Guinea that claimed the lives of 12 people there.

But a statement from WHO Africa on Saturday said: “There is no indication that the current case in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is linked to the earlier outbreak in Guinea.

“Further investigation and genomic sequencing will identify the strain and determine if there is a connection between the two outbreaks,” the statement added.

“It is of immense concern that this outbreak has been declared in Abidjan, a metropolis of more than four million people,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa regional director, said in the statement.

“However, much of the world’s expertise in tackling Ebola is here on the continent and Cote d’Ivoire can tap into this experience and bring the response to full speed.”

The WHO said it was helping to coordinate a cross-border response, which included transferring 5,000 doses of Ebola vaccine from Guinea to Ivory Coast.

Ebola causes severe fever and, in the worst cases, unstoppable bleeding.

It is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk.

In four decades, periodic Ebola outbreaks have killed around 15,000 people, all in Africa.

Its fatality rate in past outbreaks has varied between 25 and 90 percent.

But as the WHO pointed out: “There is now effective treatment available and if patients receive treatment early, as well as supportive care, their chances of survival improve significantly.”

AFP

Factfile: The Marburg Virus, Ebola’s Deadly Cousin

 

 

Guinea has recorded the first known case of the Marburg virus, a lethal cousin to Ebola, the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Here is a factfile on the disease (source: WHO, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

What is Marburg?

Marburg virus is a highly dangerous pathogen that causes haemorrhagic fever.

According to past outbreaks, the average fatality rate is 50 percent, in a range of 24-88 percent.

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 1967, in a lab where workers had been in contact with infected green monkeys that had been imported from Uganda.

Two other outbreaks occurred at the same time in Frankfurt, also in Germany, and in Belgrade, then the capital of Yugoslavia, now Serbia. Seven people died.

How is it transmitted?

The natural “reservoir,” or host, of the Marburg virus is the African fruit bat.

The cave-dwelling mammals carry the virus but do not fall sick from it, and can hand the virus to primates in close proximity, including humans — one suspected pathway is the killing or butchering of infected bats for food.

Human-to-human transmission then occurs through contact with blood or other bodily fluids, or contact with surfaces such as bedding or clothing that are contaminated with these fluids. Some infections have happened accidentally in the lab, through needle wounds.

What are the symptoms?

The virus takes between two and 21 days to incubate, leading to abrupt symptoms of high fever, severe headaches, muscular pain, vomiting and diarrhoea — symptoms that can make Marburg difficult to diagnose initially, as they are similar to diseases such as typhoid and malaria.

Haemorrhagic episodes typically follow between five and seven days later, with blood in the vomit and faeces and bleeding from the nose, gums and vagina. In fatal cases, death occurs most often between eight and nine days.

What treatments are available?

There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for Marburg disease. However, rehydration with oral or intravenous techniques improves survival and experimental use of monoclonal antibody drugs has been promising.

This is why it is crucial to stamp out the disease from the outset, say experts.

“You have to step up surveillance, identify all contact cases in order to isolate them if they start developing the disease, to prevent any transmission,” said Ousmane Faye, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

Other outbreaks

The single case that has so far been detected in Guinea occurred in a village in the district of Gueckedou, in a forested region in the south of the country close to the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The patient is a man who died on August 2 after developing symptoms on July 25.

Three of his relatives and a health workers have been identified as being at high risk and are under close surveillance. Around 150 others, considered contact cases, are also being monitored daily. The country has also stepped up cross-border vigilance.

Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been recorded in South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The deadliest epidemic so far occurred in northern Angola in 2005, in which 329 patients out of 374 died.

Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world.

It was one of three countries, along with Liberia and Sierra Leone, which was hit by the biggest-ever epidemic of Ebola, an episode that ran from 2013-16 and claimed more than 11,300 lives.

A second outbreak in Guinea began in February this year, killing 12 people before being declared over on June 19.

First West African Case Of Deadly Marburg Virus Detected

Margus outbreaks are often associated with exposure to colonies of Rousettus bats (Photo: YASSER AL-ZAYYAT AFP)

 

 

Guinea confirmed a case of Marburg disease, the World Health Organization said on Monday, 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.

The discovery comes just two months after the WHO declared an end to Guinea’s second outbreak of Ebola, which started last year and claimed 12 lives.

In Geneva, the WHO said it considered the threat “high” at the national and regional level, but “low” globally.

“We are working with the health authorities to implement a swift response that builds on Guinea’s past experience and expertise in managing Ebola, which is transmitted in a similar way,” Moeti said.

The Guinean government confirmed the Marburg case in a statement.

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.

– Rapid response –
“We applaud the alertness and the quick investigative action by Guinea’s health workers,” Moeti said.

The case was detected in a village in a forested region close to the borders of Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The man’s symptoms date back to July 25, the WHO said.

After being initially treated at a local clinic and tested for malaria, the patient died “in the community”, the WHO said.

Post-mortem samples then tested negative for Ebola, but positive for Marburg.

Ten WHO experts, including epidemiologists and socio-anthropologists, are already in the field to support national health authorities.

The emergency response includes risk assessment, disease surveillance, community mobilisation and screening, clinical care, infection control and logistical support, WHO said.

Cross-border surveillance has also been stepped up so that possible cases can be quickly detected, it said.

Three family members of the deceased and a healthcare worker have been identified as high-risk close contacts and are being monitored, while investigations are under way to identify the source of the infection and any other possible contacts, the WHO said.

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.

Fatality rates have ranged from 24 percent to 88 percent in previous outbreaks, depending on the virus strain and case management, the WHO says.

Although there are no approved vaccines or antiviral treatments, oral or intravenous rehydration and treatment of specific symptoms improve survival rates, it says.