The Equatorial Guinean government has just declared an epidemic of Marburg virus disease in the province of Kie-Ntem, bordering Cameroon to the north and Gabon to the east.
In a press release dated 13 February, the World Health Organisation stated that “Marburg virus disease is a highly virulent disease that causes haemorrhagic fever, with a case fatality rate of up to 88%“.
So far, no cases have been reported in Cameroon. But Yaounde is already preparing to cope by drawing up a response plan. But the WHO hopes that the worst will be avoided. “Thanks to the quick and decisive action of the Equatorial Guinean authorities to confirm the disease, the emergency response can be quickly set in motion to save lives and bring the virus under control as soon as possible,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa.
As soon as the first cases were identified, Malabo rushed to send samples to the reference laboratory of the Institut Pasteur in Senegal. The results were “negative for Ebola, Lassa, Dengue and yellow fever, but positive for the Marburg virus“, according to a statement from the Equatorial Guinean Ministry of Health.
On the ground, Equatorial Guinea has set up a governmental health emergency committee. And thanks to the WHO, laboratory glove boxes are being sent to facilitate the analysis of new samples. The organisation also reminds us that there is no vaccine at the moment. Treatment is essentially symptomatic.
To date, 9 people have died in Kie-Ntem and 16 suspected cases have presented symptoms such as fever, fatigue, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea.