After labs verified the infections in two cases reported earlier this month, the World Health Organization has proclaimed Ghana's first epidemic of the sickness caused by the Marburg virus, which is similar to Ebola.
The disease, an infectious hemorrhagic fever in the same family as Ebola, is passed from person to person by fruit bats and is contracted directly from infected people's bodily fluids and surfaces, according to the WHO.
Samples from two unrelated, deceased patients from Ghana's southern Ashanti area were positive in a preliminary investigation; nevertheless, they were sent to the Institute Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, for further confirmation.
According to a statement released by the WHO on Sunday, the laboratory of the UN agency for health verified the findings from Ghana's Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research.
A 26-year-old man who entered a hospital on June 26 and passed away on June 27 was the first case.
The second patient, a 51-year-old man, was treated at the same hospital on June 28 and passed away that same day, according to the WHO.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, stated that "health authorities have moved rapidly, getting a head start on preparation for a possible outbreak."
This is advantageous since Marburg might quickly spiral out of control in the absence of swift and decisive response.
The WHO is assisting local health authorities, and now that the outbreak has been officially recognized, more resources are being mobilized for the response.
The World Health Organization reported that more than 90 contacts, including medical professionals and community members, had been found and are being watched.
Marburg has the potential to be extremely dangerous and lethal; case mortality rates in previous outbreaks have ranged from 24% to 88.6%.
The illness has only twice been found in West Africa prior to this outbreak.
WHO said that Guinea confirmed a single case found in August. After more than five weeks, the outbreak in Guinea was officially announced.
According to the WHO, previous Marburg outbreaks and lone cases have been reported in Angola, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda.
What is the Marburg virus?
It is an Ebola-related viral hemorrhagic illness.
It is extremely contagious, and following outbreaks in Marburg, Frankfurt, and Belgrade in Serbia as well as Germany in 1967, it was first identified.
According to the WHO, those infections were connected to laboratory work involving imports from Uganda African green monkeys. However, Rousettus aegyptiacus, a species of fruit bat, is thought to be the virus's primary host.
According to a WHO fact sheet, prolonged exposure to mines or caves where Rousettus bat colonies are present is the primary cause of human MVD infection.
The Marburg virus travels between humans through human-to-human contact. It is contracted by fruit bats.
How does it spread?
Human-to-human transmission happens when infected individuals' blood, saliva, or other bodily fluids come into direct touch with one another through broken skin or mucous membranes.
Contact with surfaces polluted by these fluids also aids in the transmission of the disease.
According to the WHO, it can be transferred through contaminated bedding and clothing used by MVD patients, as well as through touch with the body of a deceased patient during burial rituals.
How is it treated?
There is "no proven treatment available" for MVD, according to the WHO, and there is no vaccine or authorized antiviral medication.
However, treating particular symptoms and rehydrating a patient with oral or intravenous fluids can increase their chances of survival.
According to the WHO, interventions using blood products, immunological therapy, and medication are being studied.