Guinea: Marburg virus detected in the country

Guinea is worried. While the country has just announced the end of the second Ebola epidemic in its territory, a new health threat worries the authorities. “A probable case” of Marburg virus haemorrhagic fever has been detected in Forest Guinea.

The Marburg virus is from the same family as that of Ebola and is, like it, among the most virulent pathogens in humans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The case fatality rate can reach 88%. The virus, carried by a species of bat (Rousettus aegypticus) is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids or tissues of infected people or wild animals.

Analyzes underway at the Institut Pasteur

This probable case of Marburg virus disease was notified last Thursday in Tèmèssadou M’boké, in the NZérékoré region (south-east), the National Health Security Agency (ANSS) said on Twitter. The authorities have decided to send a sample to the Pasteur Institute in Dakar to confirm the analyzes of two Guinean national laboratories. They also decided to list the contacts, search for other suspected cases, strengthen surveillance and sensitize the population in the area, but did not provide any details on the state of health of the infected patient.

The possible appearance of the Marburg virus is a first in Guinea, according to the ANSS. It would come after the announcement on June 19 of the end of the second Ebola epidemic in this country, which had been quickly defeated thanks to the experience accumulated in 2013-2016, when it had killed thousands in Guinea and in west Africa. The 2013-2016 Ebola epidemic started at the time in the same region of Forest Guinea. The tropical climate, hot and humid, and the luxuriant fauna of this region offer a particularly favorable ground for the proliferation of zoonoses, animal pathogens, which can then pass to humans.

Studying animals to prevent pandemics

To identify the pathogens of tomorrow and prevent future pandemics, scientists are studying as close as possible to sources of contamination. In Gabon in particular, researchers from the Franceville Interdisciplinary Medical Research Center (CIRMF) are working hard on these diseases originating in the animal world. For Professor Gaël Maganga, who heads the Emergence of Viral Diseases Unit (CIRMF), human behavior is often the cause of the emergence of viruses.

“With demographic pressure, the intensification of agriculture, or even hunting, contact between humans and animals is more and more frequent”, he explains. “We must stop thinking that Man is on one side, and animals on the other”, adds Pauline Grentzinger, veterinarian of the Lékédi Natural Park in Gabon. “In terms of health, what happens in one will have an impact on the other”. After Covid-19, this appearance of the Marburg virus in Guinea could be a new example of the dangers of human expansion in ever more remote territories.

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