This week, it was confirmed that the Marburg virus caused an epidemic in Equatorial Guinea, which is in Central Africa. This is the first time the virus has happened there. At least 16 cases and nine deaths have been found.
Marburg virus, which is very similar to the Ebola virus, doesn’t have any approved treatments yet, but vaccines are being made. After there were more than 28,000 cases of Ebola and more than 11,000 deaths in West Africa in 2014, drugs and vaccines were made to fight it.
Some of these were actually used again for COVID-19 in 2020. That may speed up the process of making vaccines and medicines to fight the Marburg virus.
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What is the Marburg Virus?
Marburg is a filovirus, just like Ebola, which is much better known. These viruses are part of a larger group that can cause viral hemorrhagic fever, which is a syndrome that includes fever and bleeding.
When compared to more common viral hemorrhagic fevers like dengue, yellow fever, and Lassa fever, filoviruses are the most deadly. In 1967, lab workers in Germany and Yugoslavia who were working with African green monkeys brought in from Uganda were the first people to get Marburg. A lab in Marburg, Germany, was the place where the virus was found.
Since then, there have been outbreaks in a few African countries, but not as often as with Ebola. The largest one was in Angola in 2005. (374 cases and 329 deaths).
Marburg is most often found in fruit bats, but it can also spread to pigs, primates, and other animals. People get sick when they come in contact with an infected animal.
It’s mostly spread through direct contact, especially with bodily fluids, and it causes a disease similar to Ebola, with fever, headache, and feeling sick, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and aches and pains. After about five days, bleeding starts, which can kill up to 90% of infected people.
How to Take Control of Your Life?
Like Ebola in 2014, people are worried that Marburg could spread and turn into a much bigger epidemic that spreads all over the world. It could spread to a lot of other places if people travel. In 2014, there were Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Most of the cases happened in these three countries, but there were also cases in seven other countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, that were linked to travel.
If there are more Marburg cases in Equatorial Guinea or Cameroon, where it has already spread, or if it spreads to other countries, all countries should be on high alert.
In countries that don’t know much about it, failing to diagnose viral hemorrhagic fever can kill people. At the height of the Ebola epidemic in 2014 in Dallas, Texas, a traveler from West Africa was misdiagnosed with Ebola at first, and a nurse got sick.
In Nigeria, the same thing happened, but it spread and killed many people. We don’t know as much about the Marburg virus as we do about the Ebola virus, which was well-studied during the large outbreak in 2014.
It might be less contagious than Ebola, but there aren’t as many outbreaks to compare it to. But the high number of deaths, the lack of treatments and vaccines, and what we learned from Ebola in 2014 should make us very careful.
How to Stop It From Growing?
Researchers will test Marburg vaccines that are being made to fight this epidemic, but the best hope for stopping it quickly is to use methods that don’t involve drugs. That means good surveillance and early detection of cases, finding and isolating sick people, tracking down their contacts, and putting those contacts in quarantine to stop the disease from spreading.
This can require a lot of infrastructure and planning, such as places to isolate and quarantine people. During the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, a quick and effective response was to put patients in an abandoned building and treat them there, rather than risking more outbreaks in hospitals.
West Africa in 2014 showed how important it is to find and isolate cases. Because there weren’t enough hospital beds, people were dying in the street, which made the spread of the disease worse. One study found that the epidemic could have been stopped without drugs or vaccines if 70% or more of the people who were sick had been kept in hospital beds.
But field hospitals were only set up late in the epidemic because there were not enough hospital beds. It is also important to use personal protective equipment, especially for health workers who are more likely to get filovirus infections. It is also important to disinfect and get rid of biological waste in a safe way. Infections can also be spread at funerals where washing the body is part of the culture.
Health measures need to be followed, so there needs to be health promotion and effective, culturally appropriate communication. During the Ebola epidemic in 2014, locals who were afraid of the disease and didn’t trust foreigners killed a group of people who were trying to spread information about it. If the Marburg disease spreads, these lessons must be taken to heart.
Both Marburg and Ebola can stay in the body after the symptoms go away. They can be found in organs and fluids, such as seminal and vaginal fluid, the eye, and other places. This means that it is possible for outbreaks to start with humans instead of animals.
Rapid epidemic intelligence based on open-source data can help countries with low incomes and weak surveillance systems find early signs of an outbreak. Here, news stories, social media, and other kinds of data are used to look for patterns that could mean that certain diseases are spreading in certain areas.
By looking at tweets about disease symptoms in West Africa, we were able to show that we could find Ebola months before it spread. If the current epidemic keeps spreading and isn’t well controlled, the World Health Organization may declare a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” as it did with the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019.
For now, we can use what we know and what we learned from the Ebola epidemic in 2014, which was hard to control and had terrible effects, to help us deal with this Marburg virus epidemic and hopefully stop it quickly.
The Marburg virus is a highly dangerous pathogen that causes severe fever often accompanied by bleeding, and often targeting several organs and reducing the body's ability to function on its own.https://t.co/uS9GcG8mU3
— PhilSTAR L!fe (@philstarlife) February 17, 2023
Marburg Virus is a rare, yet highly dangerous virus. It has the potential to cause severe illness and even death in those who become infected with it. It is important to educate ourselves, be aware of the signs and symptoms, and take the necessary precautions to avoid infection. With the right knowledge and preparation, we can help to protect ourselves and those around us from the dangers of the Marburg Virus.