The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning about the spread of the Marburg virus in Africa, following the recent deaths of three people in Tanzania from the disease.
Marburg virus is a highly infectious disease that is similar to Ebola and is spread through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, vomit, or saliva. The disease can cause severe hemorrhagic fever, which can lead to organ failure and death. There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine for Marburg virus.
According to the WHO, the three people who died from Marburg virus in Tanzania had all attended the funeral of a healthcare worker who had also died from the disease. The healthcare worker had been treating a patient who had been transferred from Uganda, where there have been previous outbreaks of Marburg virus.
The WHO is now working with health authorities in Tanzania to track down and monitor anyone who may have been in contact with the infected individuals, in an effort to prevent the further spread of the disease.
“We are concerned about the potential for this outbreak to spread further, especially given the movement of people across borders in the region,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “We are working closely with local health authorities to contain the outbreak and prevent its spread.”
The outbreak in Tanzania marks the first time that virus has been detected in the country. There have been several previous outbreaks of the disease in Uganda, where it is thought to be endemic in the bat population.
The WHO has urged people to take precautions to protect themselves from the disease, including washing hands regularly, avoiding close contact with infected individuals, and wearing protective clothing if working with patients who may have the disease.
The outbreak of Marburg virus comes at a time when many countries in Africa are also dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO has warned that the spread of Marburg virus could place an additional strain on health systems that are already stretched thin.
“We must remain vigilant and continue to work together to address these outbreaks, and to build stronger health systems that can respond to the challenges of both infectious and non-communicable diseases,” said Dr. Moeti.
The WHO has also called on countries to invest in research and development of treatments and vaccines for Marburg virus, in order to better prepare for future outbreaks of the disease.
As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the emergence of new infectious diseases such as Marburg virus serves as a stark reminder of the importance of global health preparedness and the need for continued investment in research and development to address these threats. The WHO and other international health organizations will continue to monitor the situation in Tanzania and other countries in the region, and work to contain and prevent the further spread of Marburg virus.