Ghana’s health service says more than a third of those quarantined after an outbreak of the Marburg virus, a relative of Ebola, have been cleared to leave isolation. Authorities quarantined 98 people this week after two fatal cases of the virus in Ghana.
This is the first time the disease has been confirmed in the West African country, although a case was reported last year in nearby Guinea.
The Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kumah-Aboge, told VOA that 39 of the 98 contacts have completed their quarantine.
He said there was no cause for alarm.
“We have 98 contacts; Health workers, morgue workers, family members,” he said. “We have randomly tested 13 of them and all of them have been negative so far. There’s nothing to worry about (about it) other than knowing what to look for and what to avoid. ,
Kuma-Abogaye said Ghana’s surveillance system is on red alert to track suspected cases from Marburg.
“We have general surveillance for all situations, including in Marburg,” he said. “That’s why the system was able to pick it up so quickly. If we hadn’t picked it up early, it would have spread to other places and it would have been difficult to stop.”
“We have a response team in those areas that are responsible for all these. We also have community volunteers who have been trained to identify any strange disease and report it for immediate response.”
The World Health Organization said the death rate for previous Marburg outbreaks has ranged from 24 to 88 percent, and there is no vaccine or antiviral treatment.
The WHO, in a statement to the VOA, commended local health authorities for being proactive in detecting the disease and said it was mobilizing resources to help Ghana control the virus.
The country’s WHO representative, Dr. Francis Casolo, said: “Health officials have responded rapidly, starting to prepare for a possible outbreak.” “This is good because, without immediate and decisive action, Marburg could easily get out of hand.”
Anita Asamoa, an independent public health advocate, said more should be done to educate the public about Marburg’s symptoms and safety measures.
“There should be more awareness in rural communities,” she said, adding that strictly following precautionary measures would be the best approach against Marburg until there is a vaccine, as well as reporting suspected cases.
Symptoms include fever, bleeding, coughing up blood and blood in the urine, Asamoh said.
In addition to Guinea and Ghana, Marburg has also appeared in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.