Cameroon detects two suspected cases of Marburg virus

The WHO increases its epidemiological surveillance in neighbouring Equatorial Guinea.

A health worker outside an isolation ward where Marburg virus patients in Angola were treated in 2005. Reuters
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Cameroonian authorities on Monday detected two suspected cases of Marburg disease on a commune on the border with Equatorial Guinea.

Cameroon had restricted movement along the border to avoid contagion after reports of an unknown, deadly haemorrhagic fever in Equatorial Guinea last week.

"On February 13, we had two suspected cases. These are two 16-year-old children, a boy and a girl, who have no previous travel history to the affected areas in Equatorial Guinea," Robert Mathurin Bidjang, the public health delegate for the region, said on Tuesday.

Forty-two people who came into contact with the two children have been identified and contact tracing was ongoing, he added.

The deadly Marburg virus surfaced this week for the first time in Equatorial Guinea, causing at least nine deaths in the west African country, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO said earlier on Tuesday that it was increasing its epidemiological surveillance in Equatorial Guinea.

Equatorial Guinea quarantined more than 200 people and restricted movement last week in Kie-Ntem province, where the haemorrhagic fever was first detected.

Marburg virus is a highly infectious disease that can have a fatality rate of up to 88 per cent, according to the WHO.

WHO on Marburg virus: 'Very similar to Ebola but we have no treatment'

WHO on Marburg virus: 'Very similar to Ebola but we have no treatment'

It is spawned by the animal-borne RNA virus of the same Filoviridae family as the Ebola virus. Both diseases are rare but have the capacity to cause outbreaks with high fatality rates.

There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat it.

A handful of Marburg cases were identified in Ghana late last year.

It is “a very rare disease in people,” according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, but “when it occurs, it has the potential to spread” and can be fatal.

Marburg spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces contaminated with these fluids.

Updated: February 20, 2023, 12:07 PM