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THE first case of a deadly Ebola-like Marburg virus has been found in West Africa.
Experts have warned it could “spread far and wide” and needs to be nipped in the bud.It has sparked fears of similar chaos and fatalities caused when the Ebola virus spread to an unprepared West Africa from 2013-16.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, said: “The potential for the Marburg virus to spread far and wide means we need to stop it in its tracks.
“We are working with the health authorities to implement a swift response that builds on Guinea’s past experience and expertise in managing Ebola, which is transmitted in a similar way.”
According to a WHO alert, the case was found a man from Guinea, in the Gueckedou province near the borders of Sierra Leone and Liberia – raising fears it could cross into those countries.
The patient developed symptoms on July 25, before going to a small health clinic near his village on August 1.
He died the next day, with four people who had been close contacts showing no symptoms.
Guinea’s new case comes just two months after the country was declared free of Ebola following a brief flare-up earlier this year that killed 12 people.
An investigation has been launched to find the source of the infection and any other possible contacts, the WHO said.
Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but this is the first time the virus has been detected in West Africa.
The virus is from the same pathogen family as Ebola, but has no known treatments or vaccines – and a fatality rate as high as 88 per cent.
Marburg virus was first identified in 1967 in both Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, and in Belgrade, Serbia.
The outbreak was linked to labs using African green monkeys imported from Uganda.
It is transmitted to people via fruit bats and spreads between human through bodily fluids.
Symptoms include fever, headache, chest pain, abdominal pain and fatigue. Many infected people will suffer haemorrhaging within a week.
Marburg is listed by the WHO as a top ten priority disease, meaning it poses “the greatest public health risk”.
Angola suffered the worst epidemic in 2005, when 90 per cent of the 252 people infected in the southern African country died