According to the Ghana Health Service, efforts are being made to reduce the risk of the virus spreading, including the isolation of all identified contacts.
Ghanaian health officials have officially confirmed two cases of the Marburg virus, a highly infectious disease similar to Ebola, after two people who died from the virus tested positive earlier this month.
On July 10, tests in Ghana came back positive. Still, the results needed to be confirmed by a laboratory in Senegal before the cases could be considered confirmed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Further testing at the Institute Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal has corroborated the results,” the Ghana Health Service (GHS) announced on Sunday.
GHS is working to reduce the risk of the virus spreading, including isolating all identified contacts, none of whom have developed symptoms so far, according to the organization.
The first case involved a 26-year-old man who was admitted to a hospital on June 26 and died on June 27. The second case involved a 51-year-old man who went to the hospital on June 28 and died the next day, according to the WHO, who added that both men sought treatment at the same hospital.
The two patients died in the hospital after experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting, according to the WHO.
“[Ghanaian] health authorities have responded quickly, preparing for a possible outbreak.” This is good because Marburg can quickly spiral out of control if immediate and decisive action is not taken,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.
This is only the second Marburg outbreak in West Africa. The virus was first detected in the region last year in Guinea, and no further cases have been identified.
Since 1967, there have been a dozen major Marburg outbreaks, the majority of which have occurred in Southern and Eastern Africa.
According to the WHO, mortality rates in previous outbreaks ranged from 24 percent to 88 percent, depending on the virus strain and case management.
According to the WHO, Marburg is transmitted to humans by fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with infected people’s bodily fluids, surfaces, and materials.
Although there is no cure for Marburg, doctors say that drinking water and treating some of the symptoms improve survival rates.