New Marburg Virus Outbreak in Equatorial Guinea: What You Need to Know

At least 9 people have died by New Marburg Virus Outbreak in Equatorial Guinea, according to the WHO

Equatorial Guinea has experienced its first outbreak of the Marburg virus, which has already killed at least nine people, while a further 25 people are suspected to be infected.


The World Health Organization confirmed the outbreak and neighboring Cameroon has also reported two suspected cases. Marburg is a type of hemorrhagic fever in the same filovirus family as Ebola. It is rare but often fatal, with a case-fatality rate ranging from 23% to 90%, depending on the outbreak. Marburg is transmitted by African fruit bats, which pass the disease onto humans and non-human primates.

The virus can also be spread between humans through contact with bodily fluids and contaminated objects. Symptoms of Marburg include fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches. The illness progresses with a rash, followed by nausea, vomiting, chest pain, a sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. The symptoms can lead to severe organ inflammation and failure, internal bleeding, significant weight loss, jaundice, and ultimately death.

Supportive care like IV fluids and treating symptoms can help increase survival rates, but there are no approved antiviral treatments or vaccines. The largest Marburg outbreak occurred in Angola from 2004 to 2005, killing 227 people. All other outbreaks have been much smaller, usually causing only a handful of infections. Marburg is slightly less contagious than Ebola, and past outbreaks have been managed through quarantine and containment efforts.

In response to the current outbreak, the WHO has deployed medical teams and is facilitating the shipment of lab equipment and personal protective gear. The organization is awaiting the results of tests on samples sent to the Pasteur Institute in Senegal. Multiple experimental Marburg vaccines are in development, and researchers are considering testing them during the current outbreak.

However, a quick and effective quarantine response could end the outbreak before vaccines could even be administered. The WHO will decide which vaccine, if any, to test in a human vaccine trial.