Another virus causes alarm in Africa.
Two people in Ghana have died and 98 others have been quarantined from the Marburg virus, raising fears of a massive outbreak of the highly infectious disease.
The contagion causes fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, vomiting and, in many cases, death from extreme blood loss.
At BBC Mundo we tell you details about this disease and why it causes concern among health authorities.
What is Marburg virus?
A cousin of the equally deadly Ebola virus, According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Marburg virus was first identified after 31 people were infected and seven died in simultaneous outbreaks in 1967 in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany, and in Belgrade, Serbia.
The outbreak was attributed to monkeys imported from Uganda.
But the virus has been linked to other animals ever since.
And, among humans, it spreads mainly by people who have spent long periods in caves and mines populated by bats.
But in Europe, only one person has died in the last 40 years, and another in the US, after returning from cave expeditions in Uganda.
The virus is transmitted to people through fruit bats. GETTY IMAGES
What have been the main outbreaks?
This is Ghana’s first outbreak, but several African countries have had cases, including:
The Democratic Republic of the Congo Kenya South Africa Uganda Zimbabwe
A 2005 outbreak in Angola killed more than 300 people.
According to the WHO, in addition to the first known outbreak in Europe, the main outbreaks of the disease have been reported in Africa and have been in:
2017, Uganda: three infections, three deaths 2012, Uganda: 15 cases, four deaths 2005, Angola: 374 cases, 329 deaths 1998-2000, Congo: 154 cases, 128 deaths 1967, Germany: 29 cases, seven deaths
The virus starts abruptly with:
Fever Severe headache Muscle aches
This is often followed, three days later, by:
Watery diarrhea Stomach pain Nausea Vomiting
“The appearance of patients in this phase has been described as showing ‘ghost-like’ features, deep-set eyes, expressionless faces and extreme lethargy,” says the WHO.
Many people they continue to bleed from various parts of the body and die eight to nine days after first getting sickdue to extreme blood loss and shock.
On average, the virus kills half of those infected, the WHO says, but the most damaging strains have killed up to 88% of cases.
How is it spread?
The Egyptian fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) is known to be one of the main transmitting agents of the virus.
African green monkeys and pigs can also carry it.
The Marburg virus was first detected in the city of Marburg, Germany, in 1967. GETTY IMAGES
Among humans, it spreads through bodily fluids and bedding contaminated with them.
And even if people do recover, their blood or semen, for example, can infect others for many months afterward.
How can it be treated?
There is no vaccine or specific treatments for the virus.
But a range of blood products, drugs and immune therapies are under development, the WHO says.
and the doctors they can relieve symptoms by giving hospital patients plenty of fluids and by replacing lost blood.
How can it be contained?
People in Africa should avoid eating or handling bushmeat, says Gavi, an international organization that promotes access to vaccines.
They should also avoid contact with pigs in areas with an outbreak, the WHO says.
Men who have had the virus should use condoms for a year after symptoms start or until your semen tests negative twice.
And those burying people who have died from the virus should avoid touching the body.
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