The World Health Organization (WHO) on Feb 25 shared the latest investigation details about a Marburg virus outbreak in Equatorial Guinea—the country's first—that officials announced earlier this month.
The investigation was triggered after at least eight deaths occurred between Jan 7 and Feb 7 in people from two villages in the same district who experienced hemorrhagic fever. Blood samples collected from eight of their contacts were negative for Ebola and Marburg viruses. Of samples collected for eight additional contacts, one was positive for Marburg, from a patient who died on Feb 10 at a district hospital.
The patient was a contact of four of the people who had died earlier from similar symptoms.
So far, the outbreak total remains at nine cases, including the confirmed case, four probable cases, and four classified as suspected. All cases were fatal. The patient with the lab-confirmed infection was the only one who died in a hospital—the rest died in community settings, a factor known to pose a high risk of further disease spread.
The WHO said all nine patients had contact with a relative who had similar symptoms or had participated in a burial of a patient with similar symptoms, another practice known to enhance the transmission risk.
The WHO said the risk to Equatorial Guinea is high, and it put the risk to the region as medium. The risk is low at the global level.
Marburg virus, a close relative of Ebola, spreads through contact with infected body fluids of infected people. It has a case-fatality rate as high as 88%, and so far there are no approved vaccines or specific treatments.