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Marburg Virus: What Is It? What Are The Symptoms?

The African country of Ghana has recently confirmed two fatal cases of the Marburg virus, a disease in the same family as the Ebola virus. Both patients died in late June in the same hospital, and their tests were confirmed in a research lab in Senegal.

The virus is considered extremely dangerous due to its highly contagious nature, and has no known cure or vaccine. Marburg, or MVD for short, causes a typically-fatal severe viral hemorrhagic fever. It’s named after its first-known origins: in 1967, twin outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany, and Belgrade, Serbia, brought the disease to the scientific community. Scientists believe the outbreak began as a result of African green monkey testing at the time.

Both recent MVD deaths were Ghanan men — one a 26-year-old, and one a 51-year-old. Monoclonal antibodies are being developed for the virus, but no real vaccine or treatment yet exists. The virus derives from contact with fruit bats, usually in caves, and then spreads with human to human contact. The bats are found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.

Learning about the Marburg virus is not a reason to panic, but rather to better understand the greater health landscape

The World Health Organization says the risk of dying from MVD ranges anywhere from 25 percent to 90 percent. Symptoms of MVD usually begin between 48 hours and three weeks after exposure; they include everything nasty you wouldn’t want to encounter.

Fever, headache, body pain, diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, confusion, and bleeding are just a few of the symptoms of the Marburg virus. There’s currently no known cure, but early detection can drastically improve chances at survival. Once detected, doctors will pump the body with fluids in hopes of flooding the virus out of the bloodstream.

The World Health Organization says the best way to combat the virus is to spread awareness and promote personal cleanliness during outbreaks. Protective clothing in caves, contact tracing, proper burials, and cleaner food preparation can all impact containment as well, they said.

MVD pops up in African communities every now and then, but is usually contained quickly. At 247Health, we don’t want to scare you — we want to promote wellness and personal strength. But having an understanding of the world is also important so that we can all make more informed personal health decisions when faced with trying circumstances.

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