The Central African country of Equatorial Guinea is struggling for the first time with an outbreak of the highly contagious Marburg virus. Nine deaths and 16 suspected cases have been reported since the February 7 outbreak.
In the affected districts, teams are working to trace contacts, isolate people with symptoms of the disease and provide medical care. The World Health Organization (WHO) has deployed experts to support local health authorities. It has also sent test kits and personal protective equipment for 500 health workers.
Marburg, or Marburg hemorrhagic fever as it was first called, is a deadly and highly contagious virus related to the Ebola virus. No vaccines or antiviral treatments have yet been approved to treat the virus. The WHO held an emergency meeting on Tuesday to evaluate several potential vaccine candidates that could be administered during the outbreak. A consortium of vaccine developers, researchers and government officials came together – the WHO created this group in 2021 to develop a vaccine against Marburg.
Outbreaks are rare. The Marburg virus is spread by certain bats. Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases of Marburg have been reported in other African countries. Last summer there was an outbreak in Ghana.