Here, as a part of Platforms Africa solution journalism, is all you may need to know about Marburg Virus, which is, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a cousin of equally deadly Ebola virus. Senior medical expert, Dr. Omotuyi Mebawondu, shares useful insights on the virus with fatality rate up to 88%. during the Platforms Africa e-Discourse. Excepts;
Can we say the World is safe from COVID-19?
Yes and No
With more that 550 million cases worldwide, 6 million deaths and over 12 billion shots of vaccines, we are not likely to see the worst forms of the Covid 19 in the world again. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of lessons have been learnt and more researches are ongoing. With collaboration across nations, we are better equipped to contain the virus now.
No in the sense that the virus still here and mutating. Humans are still constrained in terms of distribution of vaccines and knowledge. And conspiracy theorists still abound. The ongoing economic slump and fragility worldwide can also constrain world response to pandemics like Covid 19.
Not withstanding what you have said, COVID-19 is still being reported in America (President Joe Biden Contracted the virus last week) and other parts of the World, a new virus has been reported in Ghana called Marburg. What is this virus?
The new Covid 19 infection in POTUS is a pointer that the germ is no respecter of person or status. We need to step up our vigilance and surveillance.
Marburg Viral Disease is a hemorrhagic virus whose first outbreak was seen in Frankfurt and Belgrade in 1967 when some scientists were working on Africa green monkey. Subsequently, outbreaks have been reported it n Angola, DR Congo, Kenya, South Africa and now Ghana.
Marburg Viral Disease has a very high fatality rate up to 88%.
In July 17, two cases were confirmed in Southern Ashanti region of Ghana leading to quarantine of about 98 people.
We must commend the Ghanaian Health Authority for responding speedily and notifying the world about this outbreak
How different is this from the Monkey Pox? And which of them is related to Ebola in a way?
Indeed, Marburg Virus is from the same family as Ebola whereas Monkey Pox is pox virus like chicken pox or small pox. The key difference is the coding template either RNA or DNA and the main parts of the body being attacked, either skin, respiratory or alimentary or Central Nervous System.
For example, Coronavirus is an RNA virus mainly attacking the respiratory system while monkey pox is a DNA virus affecting the skin mainly. Marburg is also an RNA virus.
What are the known causes of Marburg virus?
The virus resides normally in wild monkeys, cave bats and other wild animals who serve as the carrier.
The virus then get transmitted to humans especially through contact with body fluids – blood, urine, flesh etc.
After jumping to man, it then spread from man to man through same process.
This Zoonotic Spark is the first jump for the virus.
Like I’ve said severally before, we are going to see more of dangerous germs jumping to human population. Climate change, human encroachment into the natural habitats of the wild animals, poor surveillance and mutation of these germs are mainly responsible
What are the symptoms?
The virus has an incubation period of 2 to 21 days. The illness is divided into 3 phases:
1. Abrupt illness of fever, sore throat, headache, intense body ache.
2. In 2 to 7 days after the onset of the illness, the affected person develops diarrhea and rashes. The fluid loss could be so severe to give the person a ghost like appearance
3. Around the 7th day, there is easy bleeding from the skin, and body orifices. The bleeding can also occur internally with bloody stool and vomiting of blood.
The case fatality is as high as 80%
Some Africans say the continent is simply being tagged as the source of diseases, can this be true?
I don’t think this is true. There are diseases peculiar to each regions of the world.
Africa’s natural endowment and deep forest make the blossoming of reservoirs of germs possible.
We are not the leaders in cancers and diabetes. But we have Neglected Tropical Diseases. What this should do is to encourage Africa Scientists, CDC and WHO Regional office (AFRO) to do more.
As Ghana grapples with the Marburg Virus Disease, what advice will you give to the WHO and the Ghanaian government?
Let’s give credit to the Ghanaian Health Authority for the prompt response.
What so we do next?
1. Health literacy, health literacy, health literacy especially at the community on prevention and early warning symptoms of Marburg
2. AFRO to improve collaboration and health intelligence sharing among Africa regions
3. Increasing surveillance to “Spot and Stop” the germs!
Surveillance in the animals, some cadres of workers, villagers, health workers etc
4. Research and Development of drugs, vaccines etc
This world does not belong to humans alone, all created beings have rights and authority to existence here.
We should elevate our thoughts beyond selfishness
Finally, what are the surest ways of protecting oneself against Marburg Virus Disease?
There are 3 levels of protection:
1. Primary Prevention. Get all the education you need on the virus, be informed.
Personal hygiene, hand washing, gloves, sanitizer
Avoid contact with wild animals and their body fluids. A better way of handling pet and animals is most desirable
If you’re a tourist, learn the endemic diseases especially if you’re going to be in the tropical rain forest
2. Secondary Prevention involves early diagnosis, testing and treatment. Do not self medicate. All fevers are not typhoid or malaria. Take every rash seriously and seek opinions of experts
Tertiary prevention occurs at the health Institutions where prompt and appropriate treatment are instituted to prevent complications
There are no vaccines yet!
Fatality is very high. Please protect yourself.
This edition of e-Discourse, a weekly event organised by Platforms Africa, a forum created by award-winning African journalist, Adeola Yusuf, is moderated by Accra, Ghana-based veteran journalist, Francis KOKUTSE