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HomeHealthMarburg Virus Disease Update: Outbreak in Equatorial Guinea Sparks Efforts to Test...

Marburg Virus Disease Update: Outbreak in Equatorial Guinea Sparks Efforts to Test Drugs, Vaccines

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An outbreak of Marburg virus disease, a hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola, in Equatorial Guinea has sparked efforts to test medications and vaccines for a virus that does not currently have any. After Equatorial Guinea confirmed the first outbreak of the disease on February 13, health officials around the world are rushing to test whether experimental vaccines can protect people from the deadly illness.

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Marburg virus disease is reported to be fatal in up to 88% of cases. However, experts who virtually gathered on Tuesday to try and map out a course for the work cautioned that every day counts.

Although the outbreak is thought to have started in early January, the Marburg virus was identified only on Monday as the cause of the growing number of cases of hemorrhagic fever-like illness. Nine people have so far succumbed to the disease, and each death was epidemiologically related. There are currently 16 more people in quarantine with some symptoms.

 

Marburg, a relative of the deadly Ebola virus family, has been shown in animals to be treatable or preventable by a number of experimental vaccines and medications. However, an outbreak is necessary to determine whether they actually work in humans.

The meeting, organized by the WHO division that promotes the development of vaccines and treatments for epidemic diseases, revealed that there are not many options for treating Marburg. The only vaccines being worked on are those that have already demonstrated protection in nonhuman primates.

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While a candidate made by Janssen in Beerse, Belgium, uses the human adenovirus on which the company’s successful COVID-19 vaccine was based, the Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington, DC, uses a modified chimpanzee adenovirus to transmit instructions for cells to make a Marburg virus protein.

The WHO and the scientists and organizations that collaborate with it to create vaccines and medications like these are aware from recent experience that the likelihood of being able to test these tools in the field decreases with each passing day of an outbreak. When an outbreak of the Ebola Sudan virus started in Uganda last fall, there was a flurry of activity to try and organize clinical trials for vaccines and medications. However, the outbreak was reportedly stopped before the trials could begin.

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Corona virus linger in the body? What we know about how viruses in general hang on in the brain and testicles

 

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