An outbreak of the life-threatening Marburg fever has been confirmed for the first time in Central African Equatorial Guinea. The virus, which is related to the Ebola pathogen, was detected in preliminary tests after the death of at least nine people in the small coastal state of 1.5 million people. This was announced by the World Health Organization (WHO).
So far, 16 other suspected cases with symptoms such as fever, exhaustion, bloody vomiting and diarrhea are known. Following an alert from an agency in Kié-Ntem province on February 7, eight samples were tested at the Pasteur Institute in Senegal, one of which was positive.
Teams have been sent to the affected regions to track and isolate contacts and treat people with symptoms of fever, the WHO said. Experts, sample testing equipment and protective gear for 500 health workers are set to help Equatorial Guinea contain the outbreak. According to the UN, the inhabitants of the small country on Africa's west coast are among the poorest people in the world.
The Marburg virus bears the name of the German city because laboratory employees there became infected with the previously unknown virus in test monkeys in 1967. It is believed that the virus originated from flying foxes, which are related to bats. People become infected through contact with body fluids of infected people. Depending on the treatment options, a quarter to 88 percent of those affected die.