Guinea declares end of Marburg virus disease outbreak

GUINEA – Having recorded zero cases of Marburg disease in the past 42 days, Guinea has declared the end of a Marburg virus outbreak announced on August 9th.

The decision is informed by the Marburg monitoring protocol which dictates two incubation periods, or the time between infection and the onset of symptoms to last at least 42 days to be cleared for safety.

Guinea’s index patient, and the only patient to date, marked the first time the disease emerged in the country and in West Africa.

Marburg, a highly infectious virus that causes hemorrhagic fever, was detected in southern Guinea, the same region where the initial cases of the February—June Ebola 2021 outbreak as well as the 2014—2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak were detected.

There have been 12 major Marburg outbreaks since 1967, mostly in southern and eastern Africa. Fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88% in past outbreaks depending on the virus strain and case management, according to the WHO.

Without immediate and decisive action, highly infectious diseases like Marburg can easily get out of hand. Today we can point to the growing expertise in outbreak response in Guinea and the region that has saved lives, contained and averted a spill-over of the Marburg virus,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

While the outbreak has been declared over, flare-ups can occur. WHO continues to support Guinea in its efforts to remain vigilant, maintain surveillance and build capacity to respond quickly to a possible resurgence of the virus.

West Africa has been on the WHO worry list on condition of battling different pandemics amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In efforts to continue strengthening healthcare in the region, the WHO and African Region and West African Health Organisation (WAHO) have identified major areas of collaboration.

WAHO has partnered with WHO the past five years, a collaboration that has yielded significant milestones, including improvements in epidemic surveillance and response under the World Bank-funded Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) project established in 2017.

In addition, there has been adoption and enforcement of tobacco control laws in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania and the Gambia, as well as strengthening of regulatory capacity for food and non-alcoholic beverages in 11 ECOWAS states and tobacco tax reforms in Cape Verde and Nigeria.

“I understand the surveillance architecture in West Africa. Pre-Ebola was less advanced than pre-COVID19, which is a testimony to the benefits of working together to improve health security in the region. REDISSE really helped in terms of building national public health institutes across ECOWAS member-states and expanding the epidemiology workforce,” WAHO Director-General, Prof. Stanley Okolo said.

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