Marburg virus, what it is and symptoms: why we talk about it again

Two cases of Marburg virus haemorrhagic fever have been detected for the first time in Ghana, as announced yesterday by the WHO

For the first time in Ghana, two cases of Marburg virus haemorrhagic fever have been detected, as announced yesterday by the World Health Organization (WHO). Symptoms of this hemorrhagic fever begin suddenly, with a high fever, severe headache, and malaise. Many patients develop severe bleeding signs within seven days, the WHO reports.

What is happening in the world with all these viruses? “Today we have simply widened the bull’s eye on infectious diseases. It is not that now we see pathologies that were not there before. It is just that today after the pandemic there is a greater interest in these pathologies, which was not there first, “he says Matteo Bassettidirector of the Infectious Diseases Clinic of the San Martino Polyclinic in Genoa who explains to Adnkronos Salute: “We know the Marburg virus very well, like Lassa fever and Ebola. They are hemorrhagic viruses that have always existed”.

“We infectious disease specialists have always received reports of cases involving this type of virus during the summers and winters. The same for monkeypox also in the past. Only that today we have a stronger spotlight on infectious diseases”, concludes Bassetti.

The two cases of Marburg virus hemorrhagic fever found in Ghana, for the first time in this country, “are probably people who have become infected and have brought the infection back home. It is not very frequent, since the Marburg virus is a virus rather rare and has a very low transmission rate. It happens sometimes. But the impact will be limited, “the virologist told Adnkronos Health. Andrea Crisanti.

The director of the Department of Molecular Medicine explains that this limited impact is related to the characteristics of the virus. “The Marburg – he also explains – has a lethality of 30-35%. Ebola also had a lethality of about 40% and is a virus that has a very low transmission index. It does not cause major epidemiological problems”. As explained yesterday by the World Health Organization, the Marburg virus is transmitted to people by fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the body fluids of people, or from infected surfaces and materials.

Case mortality rates have ranged from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks, depending on the strain of the virus and case management. Although there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus, supportive care – rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids – and treatment of specific symptoms improve survival. A range of potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies, and drug therapies are being evaluated. Today there is certainly greater attention on viruses, admits Crisanti, who also gives an example: “Speaking for example of monkeypox, now in the spotlight, in 2006 there was an epidemic in America and it hasn’t no one spoke, even if it was not as extensive as the current one, “he concludes.

“The first cases of Marburg in Ghana? Today there is greater attention to many episodes and outbreaks that in the past did not reach the headlines – observes the virologist at Adnkronos Salute Fabrizio Pregliasco, lecturer at the University of Milan – Instead, as monkeypox was also managed, that is, in a less alarmist way “than Covid” but reporting responsibility, it should be remembered that these outbreaks occur. There had also been others. All this leads us to highlight the importance of continuous attention and prevention “with respect to these viruses.