Marburg virus disease (MVD) is a severe and often fatal illness caused by the Marburg marburgvirus (MARV). Originating in Africa, MVD has been responsible for numerous outbreaks with case fatality rates of up to 88%. Since its first detection in 1967, around 600 cases have been reported across multiple African countries.
This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the MVD outbreak in Equatorial Guinea in 2023. We will discuss the origins, current situation, measures taken, and precautions to ensure safety from the disease.
The Outbreak in Equatorial Guinea
On February 8th, 2023, the Ministry of Health of Equatorial Guinea reported an unknown disease causing haemorrhagic fever in two neighboring communities in the district Nsok-Nsomo, Kié-Ntem province. Five days later, the first MVD outbreak in the country was confirmed. The index case passed away in early January 2023, and the notification was sent on February 7th, 2023.
As of May 10th, 2023, 17 confirmed MVD cases have been reported, including 12 deaths and four recoveries, with one case of an unknown outcome. The affected districts are Ebibeyin (Kié-Ntem province), Evinayong (Centro Sur province), Nsork (Wele-Nzas province), and Bata (Litoral province).
Measures Taken by Authorities
The National Technical Committee of Health Emergencies, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, has been working to coordinate and strengthen disease control and prevention. The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners are also supporting Equatorial Guinea and neighboring countries.
On February 14th, 2023, the Marburg virus vaccine consortium (MARVAC) held an emergency meeting, during which the WHO representative for Equatorial Guinea announced an increase in epidemiological surveillance and a 30-day response plan to assess the needs and impact of the current outbreak.
Understanding Marburg Virus Disease
MVD is a severe and rare disease caused by the Marburg marburgvirus (MARV). The virus has the potential to cause significant epidemics with high case fatality rates, making it a considerable concern for public health officials.
The symptoms of MVD usually appear between two and 21 days after exposure to the virus. Initial signs include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general feeling of discomfort. As the disease progresses, more severe symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and rash may occur. In some cases, patients can develop severe hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
There is no specific treatment for MVD, but early supportive care can improve the chances of survival. This care may include fluid replacement, maintaining blood pressure, and treating any occurring infections.
How to Stay Safe from Marburg Virus Disease
To minimize the risk of contracting MVD, it is essential to follow certain precautions, especially if traveling to or residing in affected areas:
Avoid direct contact with blood and body fluids: MVD can be transmitted through direct contact with the blood, secretions, or other body fluids of infected people. Be cautious and avoid close contact with individuals who are suspected or confirmed to have the disease.
Be mindful of infected surfaces and materials: The virus can also be transmitted through indirect contact with contaminated surfaces, such as clothing, bedding, and medical equipment. Ensure proper hygiene practices and avoid touching potentially contaminated items.
Steer clear of bat habitats: Bats are known to harbor the Marburg virus. It is crucial to avoid entering caves or mines where bats may reside, especially in areas with known MVD outbreaks.
Do not handle or consume bushmeat: Close contact with wild animals, like monkeys, forest antelopes, rodents, and bats, whether alive or dead, should be avoided. Additionally, refrain from manipulating or consuming any type of bushmeat.
The MVD outbreak in Equatorial Guinea in 2023 was a cause for concern. Although the disease is rare, it can lead to severe and often fatal consequences. The collaboration between local authorities, the WHO, and other partners has been crucial in managing the outbreak and implementing necessary measures. Following simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of infection and ensure the safety of both residents and travelers in affected areas.