Two cases of infection with the Marburg virus are currently causing unrest in Ghana. The virus, which is related to the Ebola virus, is considered to be highly contagious. Infection often ends fatally. The most important facts.

Again, it’s a virus making headlines. This time it is the Marburg virus, which is related to the Ebola virus. Two cases of the life-threatening virus have now been discovered for the first time in Ghana. On Sunday evening, the Africa office of the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the cases after the Marburg virus was found in samples from two patients from the Ashanti region in southern Ghana. According to authorities, they were infected independently of each other, and both died of Marburg fever at the end of June. Around 90 contacts are now in quarantine. This is to prevent further spread. The Marburg virus is considered extremely contagious. The probability of dying from an infection is high. These are the most important facts about zoonosis.

What is the Marburg virus?

The Marburg virus is a zoonosis, i.e. an infectious disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans or from humans to animals. Like the Ebola virus, the Marburg virus belongs to the Filoviridae family and is one of the haemorrhagic (roughly: bleeding, causing bleeding) fever diseases. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the disease is also “very similar to Ebola fever in terms of transmission, incubation period, severity and management”.

In which regions is the virus found?

The disease first broke out in 1967. The scene of the outbreak was Marburg in Germany. At that time, seven people died. Since the viruses were discovered, outbreaks have occurred almost exclusively on the African continent, especially south of the Sahara. The largest outbreak to date was recorded in Angola in 2005. More than 200 people died at that time.

How is the Marburg virus transmitted?

It is highly probable that bats and flying foxes are the natural reservoir of the virus. These transmit the virus through direct contact or through the exchange of fluids. Eating infected wild meat (“bush meat”) can also lead to infection. The virus is also transmitted from person to person in direct contact, mainly via body fluids such as infected blood, secretions or semen. Infection is also possible via aerosols. The incubation period is between five and ten days.

What do you know about infectivity?

Infected people are contagious at least as long as they show symptoms and have virus in their blood. The higher the viral load, the higher the risk of infection.

What symptoms do infected people get?

Infection with the Marburg virus is usually severe and often fatal. The probability of dying from the infection is 30 to 70 percent. In addition to fever, headache and muscle pain, symptoms also include bleeding and vomiting blood.

How is Marburg virus infection treated?

A remedy for the Marburg virus is not yet on the market. Therefore, only specific symptoms are treated.