تحت رعاية سموّ الشيخ خالد بن محمد بن زايد آل نهيان، ولي عهد أبوظبي رئيس المجلس التنفيذي لإمارة أبوظبي
Under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council
Marburg fever outbreak in Equatorial Guinea widens, WHO reports
The ongoing Marburg fever outbreak in Equatorial Guinea is significantly larger than has previously been acknowledged, according to new information released Wednesday by the World Health Organization, which warned there may be undetected chains of transmission of the deadly virus in the West African country.
The update, the first in nearly a month, shows that the number of confirmed and probable cases has grown from nine to 29, with cases having been reported in three different provinces over a range of about 90 miles. Some have links to known cases, others do not.
“The wide geographic distribution of cases and uncertain epidemiological links in Centre Sur province suggests the potential for undetected community spread of the virus,” the WHO said in the statement. “WHO assesses the risk posed by the outbreak as very high at the national level, moderate at the regional level, and low at the global level.”
All three provinces share international crossings with Cameroon and Gabon. “Cross-border population movements are frequent, and the borders are very porous. Although no [Marburg] cases have been reported outside Equatorial Guinea the risk of international spread cannot be ruled out,” the WHO said.
This outbreak of Marburg, a close cousin to Ebola, is the first the country has had to contend with and it is unclear that it has all the expertise and the scientific capacity it will need to do so. The WHO said it has sent experts in epidemiology, case management, infection prevention and control and risk communication to support the national response efforts. A mobile laboratory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and the CDC staff to run it — is already in the country.
There are currently two Marburg outbreaks underway in central Africa. On Tuesday, Tanzanian authorities announced they had detected the country’s first Marburg outbreak. To date there have been at least eight cases, five of them fatal.
While the Tanzanian officials quickly disclosed their situation, authorities in Equatorial Guinea have been much less forthcoming with their news. The WHO typically issues more frequent updates when there are active filovirus outbreaks — Marburg and Ebola are both filoviruses — but the agency must liaise with affected countries in order to do so. The length of time between this update and the one that preceded it is notable.