NCDC On High Alert After Confirmation Of Marburg Virus In Ghana

Margus outbreaks are often associated with exposure to colonies of Rousettus bats (Photo: YASSER AL-ZAYYAT AFP)

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) says it is on a high alert after Marburg Virus was detected in Ghana.

NCDC Director-General Dr Ifedayo Adetifa said this in a statement on Tuesday.

The outbreak in Ghana was confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday and represents the second time the virus will be detected in West Africa. It had been detected in Guinea in August 2021.

Two unrelated males aged 26 and 51 in Ghana were confirmed have been infected by the virus which causes a rare, highly infectious disease and severe haemorrhagic fever (MVD) in humans and non-human primates just like the Ebola virus. Both men died from the disease. There is currently no cure for the virus.

“Given the proximity of Ghana to Nigeria as well as the WHO alert, the NCDC-led multisectoral National Emerging Viral Haemorrhagic Diseases Working Group (EVHDWG) that coordinates preparedness efforts for MVD, and other emerging viral haemorrhagic diseases has conducted a rapid risk assessment to guide in-country preparedness activities,” NCDC Director-General, Dr Adetifa, said in the statement.

“Based on available data, the overall risk of both importation of the disease and its potential impact on the Nigerian population is said to be moderate as assessed by NCDC experts and partners given the following: the proximity (same region), high traffic from Ghana and countries that share borders with Ghana, the incubation period of 21 days of the virus, heightened surveillance at point of entry, Nigeria’s capacity to respond to the outbreak in the country and the fact that persons with MVD transmit the virus when they become symptomatic unlike for SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 that can also be transmitted by infected persons without symptoms.”

According to the NCDC DG, Nigeria has the capacity to test for the disease that was first discovered in 1967 after outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany.

Testing for the virus can currently be done at the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja and the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital laboratory Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology.

Dr Adetifa added, “Diagnostic capacity can be scaled up to other laboratories if required. Nigeria has the resources (human, technical and laboratory) for prompt identification and management in the event of a single imported case.”

Even with the measures in place including increased surveillance by the authorities in neighbouring Benin Republic and Togo, the NCDC boss believes changes may be needed.

“The response situation may change in the coming days with the control efforts in Ghana and advisories as may be issued by the World Health Organisation. In addition, many of the contacts under follow-up in Ghana will soon exit the 21-day quarantine period and so far, there have been no secondary cases reported,” he said.

The NCDC DG urged Nigerians to adhere strictly to preventive the following preventive measures.

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