Saudi Arabia issues Marburg disease travel warning for Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania

Marburg virus kills about nine in every 10 people who contract it

Marburg can spread in humans through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected people. AP
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Saudi Arabia's public health authority has warned citizens and residents against travel to Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania until the Marburg virus outbreak is contained.

Saudis already in both countries are being advised to follow preventive measures issued by the Ministry of Health and the Public Health Authority, and to follow the instructions of the local health authorities, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Earlier this week, Equatorial Guinea's Health Ministry announced the Ebola-like disease had spread from rural areas of the country to the commercial capital Bata. So far it has confirmed 13 cases of the viral haemorrhagic fever, while in Tanzania, five people have died from a total of eight cases.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organisation regional director for Africa, said the efforts by Tanzania’s health authorities to establish the cause of the disease showed "the determination to effectively respond to the outbreak”.

“We are working with the government to rapidly scale up control measures to halt the spread of the virus and end the outbreak as soon as possible,” she added

Marburg originated in fruit bats and can spread in humans through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected people and surfaces. It has a fatality rate of 88 per cent and no vaccine or antiviral treatment.

Symptoms include fever, fatigue and severe headaches, before haemorrhagic symptoms begin within seven days.

About 12 major Marburg outbreaks have occurred since the virus was discovered in 1967, mostly in southern and eastern Africa.

Updated: March 31, 2023, 5:56 PM