Marburg Virus Case Reported in West Africa

The first case reported in Guinea has resulted in a patient's death, while health authorities work to reduce outbreak risks.

The first case of Marburg virus ever recorded in West Africa has been identified in Guinea, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report on Tuesday.

Marburg, a highly infectious disease in the same family as the Ebola virus, is transmitted from fruit bats and can be transmitted through humans via direct contact of the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces, and materials. It is associated with hemorrhagic fever within 7 days of transmission, and fatality rates from 24-88% based on previous outbreaks and dependent on the virus strain and case management.

This first case in West Africa had resulted in an infected patient seeking treatment at a local clinic in Gueckedou. The now-deceased patient’s case was confirmed by a field laboratory team in the area and supported by further analysis from the Institut Pasteur in Senegal.

Gueckedou is the same region where cases of the 2021 Guinea Ebola outbreak were initially detected, as well as the 2014-16 West Africa Ebola outbreak. Regional officials are working to contact people who may have been in contact with the patient, while health authorities are initiating public education and community mobilization efforts to inform the public on their first case of Marburg virus.

WHO has also dispatched an initial team of 10 experts, including epidemiologists and socio-anthropologists, to investigate the case and aid in national emergency response. Cross-border surveillance in neighboring countries has also been enhanced to expedite new case identification.

“We applaud the alertness and the quick investigative action by Guinea’s health workers,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa said in a statement. “The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks.

“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.”