*Nigeria has moderate risk for MVD based on data

*Says no case yet in the country

By Chioma Obinna

As the World Health Organsiation, WHO, confirmed an outbreak of Marburg Virus Disease, MVD, in neighbouring country, Ghana, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, on Wednesday, issued a high alert on the disease, stating that no case has been recorded in Nigeria.

In its High alert following the second incidence of MVD in West Africa, the NCDC explained that the zoonotic disease has been reported in two unrelated males — a 26 year-old and a 51 years old — who both died from the disease.

The Centre also noted that based on available data, the overall risk of both importation of the disease and its potential impact on the Nigerian population is said to be moderate as assessed by experts and NCDC.

The disease was first discovered in 1967 following outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, and Belgrade, Serbia.

Since then, outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in some African countries.

The alert signed by the Director-General of the NCDC, Dr Adetifa, said currently, no case of Marburg virus disease has been reported in Nigeria.

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“However, several measures are being put in place to prevent an outbreak of the disease in-country.

“The National Reference Laboratory has the capacity to test for MVD, point of entry surveillance has been heightened, trained rapid response teams are on standby to be deployed in the event of an outbreak and the NCDC’s Incident Coordination Centre (ICC) is in alert mode.

“The NCDC is also amplifying risk communication efforts and continues to work with states and partners to strengthen preparedness activities which include review of risk communication protocols, plans and messages in the event of an outbreak.

He said already, Ghanaian public health officials are responding with support from WHO to halt the spread of the disease.

“Given the proximity of Ghana to Nigeria as well as the WHO alert, the NCDC-led multi-sectoral National Emerging Viral Haemorrhagic Diseases Working Group (EVHDWG) that coordinates preparedness efforts for MVD, and other emerging viral haemorrhagic diseases, have conducted a rapid risk assessment to guide in-country preparedness activities.

“Based on available data, the overall risk of both importation of the disease and its potential impact on the Nigerian population is said to be moderate as assessed by NCDC experts and partners given the following:

“The proximity (same region), high traffic from Ghana and countries that share borders with Ghana, the incubation period of 21 days of the virus, heightened surveillance at point of entry, Nigeria’s capacity to respond to the outbreak in country and the fact that persons with MVD transmit the virus when they become symptomatic unlike for SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 that can also be transmitted by infected persons without symptoms.”

He further explained that Nigeria has the capacity to test for the virus presently at the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja and the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital laboratory Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology.

Also, diagnostic capacity can be scaled up to other laboratories if required.

What it is Marburg

The Marburg virus causes a rare, highly infectious disease and severe haemorrhagic fever (MVD) in humans and non-human primates just like the Ebola virus, its closest relation and only other member of the Filoviridae family of viruses.

It is another example of a zoonosis such as Lassa fever, etc.

The natural animal reservoir/host are fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus). Following the transmission from infected animals to humans, it spreads in humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, and contaminated materials and surfaces.

The virus can enter the body through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth.

The initial symptoms of the disease include sudden onset of fever (Temp ≥37.5OC), chills, headache, body aches which may be accompanied by a rash, most prominent on the chest, back and stomach, nausea/vomiting, chest pain, sore throat, abdominal pain by the fifth day of illness.

Increase in severity of illness can be heralded by the appearance of severe watery diarrhoea, jaundice, inflammation of the pancreas, severe weight loss, bleeding from multiple areas, delirium, shock, liver failure, massive haemorrhaging, and multi-organ dysfunction and/or failure.

In fatal cases, death occurs often between 8 and 9 days after symptom onset. The case fatality rate for MVD is estimated to be 24% to 88%.

The Marburg virus is known to persist in the body – placenta, amniotic fluid, foetus of infected pregnant women, breast milk of women who were infected while breastfeeding and semen – of persons who have recovered from MVD.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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