A 16-month-old child who contracted the highly infectious Ebola-like Marburg virus in Ghana has died, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed.
Three people have so far tested positive, in the country’s first Marburg outbreak. All are from the same family – the father died on June 26, followed by the child on July 20, three days after being admitted to hospital.
The mother of the child is currently in isolation and no longer exhibiting symptoms, Dr Francis Kasolo, WHO Representative in Ghana, told The Telegraph. She will have to undergo two rounds of testing before she can leave. The other children in the family have not tested positive.
Marburg is a hemorrhagic fever with a death rate of up to 88 per cent and no known treatments.
There are some concerns that the current outbreak, only the second in West Africa, could be spreading silently in the community, although the WHO insisted that “extensive community engagement and contact tracing” would have detected more cases if this was happening.
“But with these diseases, you always have to err on the side of caution,” Dr Kasolo said.
It is not yet clear how the family caught the virus, but Marburg is transmitted from fruit bats. It spreads among humans through direct contact with bodily fluids, surfaces and materials. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting.
Last week, Dr Soce Fall at the WHO said the second contact – the wife and mother – had attended a prayer camp shortly after her husband died, where the practice of laying of hands is used to try to heal people.
“The mother is now in isolation and being followed up,” Dr Kasolo said. “The lady had gone to bury her husband in the north, and after the burial, she was supposed to seek prayer.
We were able to remove her from the prayer [centre] and move her to a treatment center.”
He added that her close contacts are also being isolated.