The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning to travelers heading to Guinea and Tanzania to take precautions against the deadly Marburg virus, which has broken out in both countries. The CDC is also sending personnel to Africa to help contain the outbreak.
Highly Infectious and Deadly
The Marburg virus is a highly infectious disease that has epidemic potential and high fatality rates. The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the outbreak and estimates suggest that the virus has caused several deaths already.
Equatorial Guinea has been hit hardest by the outbreak so far, with the country reporting nine confirmed cases of the virus and 20 probable cases, all of which have resulted in death. Meanwhile, Tanzania has confirmed eight cases of the virus, including five deaths.
What are the Symptoms?
The Marburg virus is rare and deadly and symptoms include fever, chills, muscle pain, rash, sore throat, diarrhea, weakness, and unexplained bleeding or bruising. The virus can be spread through contact with contaminated objects, such as clothing, bedding, needles, and medical equipment, or by contact with animals such as bats.
The CDC is urging travelers to avoid contact with sick people and healthcare facilities in outbreak areas and to watch for symptoms for three weeks after leaving the area. The agency is also sending its National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases to help respond to the outbreaks in Guinea and Tanzania.
Role of Bats
In 2018, CDC scientists worked on a project in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park after tourists and nearby villages experienced outbreaks of the virus. The project involved tracking the movements of bats using GPS units to understand better how the virus is transmitted to humans.
While the CDC’s warnings may be alarming, the agency’s swift response to the Marburg virus outbreak shows its commitment to public health and preventing the spread of deadly diseases. Travelers to affected areas should take precautions to avoid infection and seek medical help immediately if they show any symptoms of the virus.