Outbreak of highly contagious Ebola-like virus a ‘serious concern’

In the decades since, sporadic epidemics have been identified in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya, among others. The largest outbreak to date occurred in Angola in 2005, when 374 contracted the virus and 329 died – an 88 percent death rate.

Last year, in the first outbreak to hit West Africa, Guinea also reported one case. Although 170 contacts were checked, the virus did not spread more widely.

The World Health Organization said the two patients in Ghana had symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting. Samples were sent to the Institut Pasteur in Senegal, a WHO Collaborating Centre, to confirm the diagnosis.

The UN agency added late on Thursday that it will send an emergency team to Ghana to try to prevent a serious outbreak.

“We are working closely with the country to ramp up detection, follow up contacts and stand ready to control the spread of the virus,” said Dr Francis Kasolo, WHO representative in Ghana.

The Marburg virus is a major concern for public health officials concerned about the next pandemic. It can cause serious public health emergencies, but there are currently no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat the virus.

Although the death rate is high, supportive care, including rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, may improve survival.

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