An outbreak of a deadly disease, the Marburg virus disease (MVD), has been reported in Africa, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to call an urgent meeting on Tuesday. Representatives from the vaccine research and development field who are working to create vaccines against the deadly virus attended the Marburg virus vaccine consortium (MARVAC) meeting. The organization gathered specialists from all over the world to talk about how to speed up the creation of Marburg virus vaccines and treatments.
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According to WHO, MVD, formerly known as Marburg hemorrhagic fever, is one of the deadliest illnesses known to man. It has a fatality rate as high as 88%, making it much deadlier than its more well-known cousin, the Ebola virus. The WHO officials met to talk about the development of vaccine and treatment candidates after the virus’ first-ever outbreak in Equatorial Guinea resulted in the deaths of at least nine people.
The organization said that the illness is spread in humans either through direct contact with fluid from infected people and surfaces like bedsheets or clothing and is spread to humans by fruit bats, like Ebola. Following a warning from a local health official last week, samples from Equatorial Guinea were sent to a lab in Senegal to determine the origin of the outbreak, according to the WHO. Out of 16 suspected cases, nine people have died so far; symptoms include fever, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting with blood.
According to the WHO, patients typically experience severe hemorrhagic symptoms within seven days of the start of their painful symptoms. Patients have been reported to have “ghost-like” drawn features, deep-set eyes, expressionless faces, and extreme lethargy after infection for days, the agency said.
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Although there are no approved vaccines or antiviral medications for the Marburg virus, the WHO stated that supportive care, such as rehydration with oral or IV fluids, improves survival. There are many treatments being examined, including blood products, immune and drug therapies, and vaccine candidates. Ninety percent of the 252 people who contracted Marburg during an Angolan outbreak in 2004 died. Two Marburg deaths were reported in Ghana last year.
The rare virus was first discovered in 1967, after it simultaneously caused disease outbreaks in laboratories in Marburg, Germany, and Belgrade, Serbia. Seven individuals who contracted the virus while studying monkeys also died.
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