Health

the value of lessons from managing other haemorrhagic outbreaks

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on in Africa amid inadequate vaccination rollout, viral haemorrhagic fever has once more raised its head. This provides to public well being turmoil on the continent the place resources to answer rising and re-emerging epidemic inclined zoonotic ailments stay restricted.

In the first week of August 2021, a Marburg virus disease outbreak was declared in south-western Guinea. This was the identical space wherein the latest outbreak of Ebola virus illness occurred and solely weeks after the finish of the Ebola outbreak was declared.

To date, 14 outbreaks of Marburg virus illness have been reported since 1967. These have been principally in sub-Saharan Africa. The most up-to-date case in Guinea is the first reported in West Africa. However, proof of Marburg virus circulation has been reported from nations the place Marburg virus illness instances haven’t been identified so far. These embrace Gabon, Zambia, and Sierra Leone.



The first recognised outbreak of Marburg virus illness in Africa occurred in 1975 in South Africa. It was an imported case from Zimbabwe. Imported instances from Uganda had been reported in 2008 in the US and the Netherlands and one laboratory an infection was identified in Russia in 2004. To date the largest and deadliest outbreak occurred in Angola in 2004–2005.

Recurrent outbreaks of viral haemorrhagic fevers are a serious burden on nations corresponding to Guinea the place well being care techniques are already below menace.

Fortunately, many African nations are skilled in managing outbreaks of viral haemorrhagic fevers. Guinean well being authorities have been capable of reply quickly and implement measures learnt during the Ebola outbreak to regulate the unfold of Marburg. This has included fast deployment of multidisciplinary groups, prognosis, contact tracing, isolation and remedy of sufferers.

The existence of remedy centres tremendously facilitated fast remedy of suspected instances and confirmed instances, and medical experience improved affected person care.

Marburg virus

Marburg virus belongs to the identical household as the Ebola viruses. It causes sporadic, however usually deadly illness in people and non-human primates. Studies implicate the Egyptian rousette bat, Rousettus aegyptiacus (Pteropodidae household), as the prime reservoir host. Entering the roosting habitats, together with caves and mining actions have been related to Marburg virus transmission to people.

The virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, bodily secretions and/or tissues of contaminated individuals or wild animals, for instance monkeys and bats. It can be transmitted by means of contact with surfaces and supplies like bedding or clothes contaminated with these fluids.

The incubation interval varies from 2 to 21 days. Symptoms embrace fever, malaise, physique aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and inner haemorrhaging (bleeding).

Marburg virus may be troublesome to differentiate from other tropical widespread febrile diseases, as a result of of the similarities in the medical presentation. Based on the laboratory confirmed instances, an infection with Marburg virus can lead to dying in 23% to 90% of sufferers.

There isn’t any particular antiviral remedy or preventative vaccine. Supportive care contains intravenous fluids, substitute of electrolytes, supplemental oxygen, and substitute of blood and blood merchandise might considerably enhance the medical final result.

Marburg virus can unfold simply between folks if acceptable preventive measures will not be in place. These embrace personal safety, boundaries nursing, secure administration of funerals, case discovering, contact tracing, isolation and remedy of affected person.

The virus is doubtlessly liable to trigger formidable epidemics with severe public well being penalties.

Important steps

The space in Guinea the place the case of Marburg virus illness was detected shares shut borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia. The motion of folks domestically and throughout borders might result in the potential unfold. That’s why the following steps are key:

  • the deployment of well-prepared response groups at national and district level.

  • surveillance and coordinated efforts inside and between nations.

  • surveillance at factors of entry.

  • contact tracing and lively case discovering in well being amenities and at the group degree.

  • investigations aiming at identification of the supply of the an infection.

  • laboratory testing immediately.

  • group engagement.

It can be vitally vital to teach the public and lift group consciousness about the threat elements and the protecting measures people can take to scale back their publicity. These embrace:

  • avoiding shut bodily contact with somebody who is believed to have contracted the virus.

  • the switch of any suspected case to a well being facility for remedy and isolation.

  • the speedy and secure burial of individuals who have died from the virus.

  • the use of an infection prevention and management precautions by health-care employees caring for sufferers with suspected or confirmed Marburg virus illness. This is to keep away from any publicity to blood and/or bodily fluids, in addition to unprotected contact with a presumably contaminated surroundings.

  • wildlife to be dealt with with gloves and acceptable protecting clothes to scale back the threat of unfold.

  • animal merchandise (blood and meat) to be cooked totally earlier than consuming. Raw meat ought to be averted.

Community involvement is crucial to reply successfully and management an outbreak. This should be supported by major well being care techniques to realize larger participation and dedication.

What must be fastened

A quantity of elements get in the approach of researching, responding to and controlling zoonotic ailments in Africa. These embrace:

  • inadequate and un-coordinated surveillance and analysis programmes.

  • restricted regional capability to develop new and improved diagnostic assays.

  • scarcity of most containment amenities.

  • lack of strategic biobanks for long-term and safe storage of reference medical supplies, strains and pathogen biodiversity.

  • lack of regional External Quality Assurance programmes for harmful endemic viral and bacterial pathogens.

A well timed, streamlined, well-funded and environment friendly illness reporting and surveillance system is crucial to observe the menace of potential epidemics. To strengthen the effectivity of responding rapidly, every nation should enhance its personal capability in illness recognition and laboratory competence.

We additionally want progressive African-driven approaches to make the vital quantum leap in the growth of scientific capability for surveillance and management of infectious ailments.

Global initiatives aiming at enhancing well being safety, emergency preparedness and well being techniques are additionally vital. However, an incredible deal of work is required at the larger degree of nationwide governance to strengthen resilience and scale back vulnerability.


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