Marburg virus confirmed in EG, region steps up health measures
Equatorial Guinea has confirmed its first-ever outbreak of Marburg virus disease, with at least nine fatalities that have forced a lockdown in Nsok Nsomo and the Kie Ntem district near the border with Gabon and Cameroon.
Officials with the World Health Organization (WHO) said samples were taken from those infected and sent for laboratory tests at the Institut Pasteur in Senegal. At least one of those samples was positive for Marburg virus, a highly fatal hemorrhagic disease in the same family as the Ebola virus.
“Marburg is highly infectious,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Thanks to the rapid and decisive action by the Equatorial Guinean authorities in confirming the disease, emergency response can get to full steam quickly so that we save lives and halt the virus as soon as possible.”
Mitoha Ondo’o Ayekaba, health minister for the small West African nation, said Equatorial Guinea first identified the nine people with a pattern of symptoms including fever, joint pain and weakness, vomiting blood, and diarrhea. They were believed to have attended the same village funeral together.
Authorities in neighboring Cameroon put border crossing restrictions in place within their Ambam, Kye-Ossi and Olamze districts in order to limit the possibility of the disease spreading from Equatorial Guinea.
Neighboring Gabon also has stepped up its health surveillance efforts, saying it would take samples from all travelers entering from Equatorial Guinea. The samples will be tested at the Interdisciplinary Center for Medical Research in Franceville.
Gabon also planned public education and sanitation efforts in communities along its border with Equatorial Guinea, with health minister Dr. Guy Patrick Obiang Ndong visiting the affected region on Saturday.
Image: World Health Organization