The Marburg virus causes a rare, highly infectious disease and severe haemorrhagic fever (MVD) in humans and non-human primates just like the Ebola virus, its closest relation and only other member of the Filoviridae family of viruses.
It is another example of a zoonosis such as Lassa fever, etc. The natural animal reservoir/host are fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus).
Following the transmission from infected animals to humans, it spreads in humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, and contaminated materials and surfaces. The virus can enter the body through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth.
The initial symptoms of the disease include sudden onset of fever (Temp ≥37.5OC), chills, headache, body aches which may be accompanied by a rash, most prominent on the chest, back and stomach, nausea/vomiting, chest pain, sore throat, abdominal pain by the fifth day of illness.
Increase in severity of illness can be heralded by the appearance of severe watery diarrhoea, jaundice, inflammation of the pancreas, severe weight loss, bleeding from multiple areas, delirium, shock, liver failure, massive haemorrhaging, and multi-organ dysfunction and/or failure.
In fatal cases, death occurs often between 8 and 9 days after symptom onset. The case fatality rate for MVD is estimated to be 24% to 88%.
The Marburg virus is known to persist in the body – placenta, amniotic fluid, foetus of infected pregnant women, breast milk of women who were infected while breastfeeding and semen – of persons who have recovered from MVD.
Nigerians are urged to adhere strictly to the following preventive measures
Avoid non-essential travel to locations where the outbreak is reported for the moment.
Avoid direct contact with blood, saliva, vomit, urine, and other bodily fluids of people with suspected or confirmed Marburg virus disease.
Avoid the animal reservoir (fruit bats), other sick animals.
Ensure all persons with the symptoms described above are promptly taken to healthcare facilities for diagnosis and initiation of supportive treatment
In suspected and/or confirmed MVD cases, direct physical contact should be avoided by ensuring strict isolation, the use of protective gowns, masks, gloves and safe disposal of needles, bedding, and other contaminated materials.
Strict practice of infection prevention control in the healthcare setting for all suspected patients.
Male survivors of Marburg virus disease should practice safer sexual practices and hygiene for 12 months from onset of symptoms or until their semen test negative twice for the virus.
Infections have been recorded in health facilities and in healthcare workers while looking after patients with suspected or confirmed MVD.
This is mostly due to poor adherence to infection prevention and control (IPC) measures. Therefore, healthcare workers are urged to maintain a high index of suspicion for the disease and always observe standard precautions.
There is currently no treatment or vaccine for MVD, however, infected persons can benefit from supportive care and treatment of specific symptoms which improve the chances of survival. Early detection and treatment improve prognosis.
Anyone who travels to a location where an outbreak has been reported or had contact with a confirmed case or sick individual of unknown source of illness should observe self-isolation for 21 days and call the NCDC hotline (6232) immediately if symptomatic.
For further information on Marburg virus disease, visit the NCDC website via – https://ncdc.gov.ng/diseases/info/M.