Marburg Virus Disease in Nigeria - Know the Facts

Marburg Virus Disease in Nigeria - Know the Facts

Is Marburg Virus Disease in Nigeria?

Marburg Disease was first reported in Guinea in 2021 followed by Ghana. Almost a month after the World Health Organization confirmed a Marburg Virus outbreak in neighboring Ghana, a Nigerian hospital has notified the hospital community of a virus outbreak. Marburg is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus related to the one that causes Ebola. Is Marburg Virus Disease in Nigeria?

The University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, notified the hospital community of the virus outbreak and urged caution in a leaked internal memo on Friday. The memo, signed by Sani Suleiman, Deputy Director in charge of the hospital's information unit, was addressed to the hospital's staff and heads of various departments.

In a phone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, a reporter confirmed the authenticity of the memo but said there was no need for concern. 
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“Outbreak of Marburg Disease and COVID-19 Infections,” reads in part; “The Management of University of Abuja Teaching Hospital wishes to notify the entire hospital community of an outbreak of Marbug (sic) disease and upsurge in COVID-19 infection.

“Consequently, the attention of all Head of Departments and members of staff is hereby drawn to ensure adequate surveillance and hygiene by observing all protocols of prevention.”

The memo also warned of an increase in coronavirus infections and advised employees not to relax their guard.

"More information on the outbreak will be sent on our various social media platforms in due course," it added.

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Marburg Virus Disease in Nigeria - Know the Facts

Clarifying the memo from  Hospital, Mr Suleiman while speaking to the press advised Nigerians not to raise unnecessary alarm. He advised further, stating that the cases are still being investigated. There is not yet a confirmed Marburg Virus Disease case in Nigeria, currently.

According to the spokesman, the memo was intended for hospital employees only and was not intended for public consumption. He urged the media to report responsibly in order to keep Nigerians from becoming overly concerned.

“This is supposed to be an internal memo meant only for the management and staff but released to the public. It was simply meant to caution the workers against abandoning the protocols.

“I wrote that memo from one committee’s report to sensitize the people in the hospital but I think by Monday, we will probably take measures to explain further for people to understand. So it is not like there is an outbreak in Nigeria or in the FCT.”

The memo also warned of increasing cases of coronavirus infections and advised the workers against letting down the guards. It added; “More details will be sent on our various social media platforms on the outbreak in due course…”

The spokesman said the memo was a cautionary one addressed to the hospital’s workers and not for public consumption. He urged the media to report responsibly to avert unnecessary panic by Nigerians.

About Marburg Virus - MVD for Short

 Like I told my neighbors who could not understand all the grammar about this MVD, Marburg Virus is a cousin to Ebola Virus. In fact, both share common symptoms.
  • Sudden onset of high fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Body aches that may be accompanied by a rash, most prominent on the chest, back, and stomach, Nausea/vomiting,
  • Chest pain
  • Sore throat, and
  • Abdominal pain by the fifth day of illness.

Advanced Symptoms include:
  • The appearance of severe watery diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Pancreas inflammation
  • Severe weight loss
  • Bleeding from multiple areas
  • Delirium
  • Shock,
  • Liver failure
  • Massive hemorrhaging
  • Multi-organ dysfunction and/or failure can herald an increase in the severity of the illness.
  • In fatal cases, death usually occurs between 8 and 9 days after the onset of symptoms.

Marburg Virus Disease MVD in Ghana

Marburg Virus disease was first detected in Ghana in July 2022 in  2 patients. The Ghana Health Service (GHS) confirmed the first two cases of Marburg virus disease in July. The news follows the country's Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research's preliminary discovery of the cases in the Ashanti Region earlier in July.

The findings were reportedly sent to the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, with assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO), where they were confirmed to be the Marburg virus.
"The two patients, both deceased and unrelated, from the southern Ashanti region, displayed symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting." They were taken to a district hospital in the Ashanti region, according to the WHO preliminary report.

Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the GHS director, stated that 98 people identified as contact cases were then quarantined, adding that "this is the first time Ghana has confirmed Marburg virus disease."

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, confirmed the development, saying health authorities reacted quickly, "getting a head start preparing for a possible outbreak."

Marburg Virus Disease in Nigeria

  • Nigeria's regulations against Marburg Virus

Though the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has yet to respond to the latest development, it issued guidelines in July to advise the public on preventive measures. Following the Ghanaian experience, the NCDC stated that it was on high alert.

According to the NCDC director-general, Ifedayo Adetifa, no cases of Marburg virus have been reported in Nigeria, but several measures are being implemented to prevent its spread.
The outbreak in Ghana was the virus's second detection in West Africa, following the outbreak in Guinea in 2021.

According to Mr Adetifa, the NCDC-led multisectoral National Emerging Viral Hemorrhagic Diseases Working Group (EVHDWG) conducted a rapid risk assessment to guide in-country preparedness activities in response to Ghana's proximity to Nigeria and the WHO alert.

The NCDC director also stated that Nigeria currently has the ability to test for the virus at the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja and the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital Laboratory Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology.

"If necessary, diagnostic capacity can be expanded to other laboratories." "In the event of a single imported case, Nigeria has the resources (human, technical, and laboratory) for prompt identification and management," he added.

Mr Adetifa assured that the risk of importation may be reduced further because the current situation in Ghana is under control and active case finding is ongoing, while Togo and Benin are under increased surveillance.

He also stated that "many of the contacts under follow-up in Ghana will soon exit the 21-day quarantine period, and no secondary cases have been reported so far."

Marburg Virus Disease Preventive Measures in Nigeria

The NCDC emphasized measures that Nigerians should follow in order to prevent the virus from spreading. It urged Nigerians to avoid unnecessary travel to areas where the outbreak has been reported, as well as avoid direct contact with the blood, saliva, vomit, urine, and other bodily fluids of people suspected or confirmed to have the virus.

The NCDC also announced the following measures:

  • "Ensure that all individuals experiencing the symptoms described above are promptly transported to healthcare facilities for diagnosis and the initiation of supportive treatment."
  • "Direct physical contact should be avoided in suspected and/or confirmed MVD cases by ensuring strict isolation, the use of protective gowns, masks, gloves, and the safe disposal of needles, bedding, and other contaminated materials."
  • "Strict infection prevention and control practices in the healthcare setting for all suspected patients."

What is Marburg Disease and Symptoms?

The Marburg virus causes a rare, highly infectious viral hemorrhagic fever and is related to Ebola, both of which are members of the Filoviridae family (filovirus). Marburg is transmitted to humans by fruit bats after prolonged exposure to mines and caves with Rousettus bat colonies. It is not a disease spread through the air. The virus spreads through direct contact with infected people's blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids, as well as surfaces and materials contaminated with these fluids.

According to the NCDC, "the disease's initial symptoms include a sudden onset of high fever, chills, headache, body aches that may be accompanied by a rash, most prominent on the chest, back, and stomach, nausea/vomiting, chest pain, sore throat, and abdominal pain by the fifth day of illness."

"The appearance of severe watery diarrhea, jaundice, pancreas inflammation, severe weight loss, bleeding from multiple areas, delirium, shock, liver failure, massive hemorrhaging, and multi-organ dysfunction and/or failure can herald an increase in the severity of the illness."

"In fatal cases, death usually occurs between 8 and 9 days after the onset of symptoms." The case fatality rate for MVD is estimated to be between 24 and 88%. "
The Marburg virus is known to persist in the bodies of people who have recovered from MVD, including the placenta, amniotic fluid, fetus of infected pregnant women, breast milk of women who were infected while breastfeeding, and semen.

Marburg Virus Disease in Nigeria

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