In response to the outbreak, international health organisations and local governments are ramping up efforts to contain the virus .
Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) declared that it is monitoring recent developments following the Marburg virus’s spread in Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea.
The ministry issued a statement urging people to avoid short-term travel to the two countries where the disease has spread and urged those who are already there to abide by the preventive guidelines issued by the local health authorities.
Additionally, it urged travellers from Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea to keep an eye out for disease symptoms for the first 21 days after arrival, which include “headache, severe fatigue with muscle pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, rash” as per the ministry’s statement.
Those with the symptoms have been advised to “self-isolate immediately and call Qatar Health Care Unified Contact Center ‘16000”
Origins of the disease
The Marburg virus, a close relative of the Ebola virus, is a rare but severe and often fatal illness that originates from African fruit bats.
It was first discovered in 1967 when simultaneous outbreaks occurred in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany, and in Belgrade, then part of Yugoslavia, linked to infected African green monkeys imported for research.
The Marburg virus is transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals, such as fruit bats or monkeys, or through contact with bodily fluids of infected people.
The virus presents with symptoms similar to Ebola, including fever, headache, and muscle pain, rapidly progressing to severe hemorrhagic fever, which can be lethal if not treated in time.
The fatality rate varies between 24% and 88%, depending on the outbreak and the availability of medical support.
Researchers are actively working to develop a vaccine for the Marburg virus, but no approved vaccine or specific antiviral treatment is currently available. Early diagnosis and supportive care, including rehydration, pain relief, and treatment of infections, can significantly improve survival rates.