West News Wire: According to the World Health Organization, Equatorial Guinea has verified its first-ever Marburg illness epidemic and that the virus associated with the Ebola outbreak is to blame for at least nine fatalities in the small West African nation.
After receiving a warning from a local health official last week, samples from Equatorial Guinea were sent to a lab in Senegal to identify the disease’s cause. As a result, the U.N. health agency verified the pandemic in a statement on Monday.
According to the WHO, there have been nine deaths and 16 suspected cases so far, all of which include symptoms like fever, tiredness, diarrhea, and vomiting. The organization announced that it was sending medical specialists to assist Equatorial Guinean authorities in containing the outbreak as well as protective gear for hundreds of workers.
Like Ebola, the Marburg virus originates in bats and spreads between people via close contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, or surfaces, like contaminated bed sheets.
Marburg causes Marburg virus disease, a hemorrhagic fever that can affect the body’s organs and cause bleeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Marburg virus is a zoonotic virus that, along with the six species of Ebola virus, comprises the filovirus family, the CDC said.
The rare virus was first identified in 1967 after it caused simultaneous outbreaks of disease in laboratories in Marburg, Germany and Belgrade, according to the CDC.
Thirty-one people who were exposed to the virus while conducting research on monkeys became ill, and seven died, according to the CDC.
African fruit bats are the reservoir hosts of the virus, the CDC said.
Most fatal cases last just over a week, the WHO said, adding that deaths are typically accompanied by severe blood loss and shock.