UAE issues travel advisory: What is Marburg virus and how dangerous is it?

Disease is passed on to people from fruit bats and is from the same virus family responsible for the deadly Ebola

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FILE. Two health workers, wearing protection outfits, leave the isolated area where people infected by the deadly Marburg virus are treated at the Americo Boa Vida hospital. Photo: AFP
FILE. Two health workers, wearing protection outfits, leave the isolated area where people infected by the deadly Marburg virus are treated at the Americo Boa Vida hospital. Photo: AFP

Published: Sun 2 Apr 2023, 1:49 PM

Last updated: Sun 2 Apr 2023, 10:18 PM

The UAE has issued a travel advisory for citizens and has recommended against travelling to Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania due to the outbreak of Marburg virus.

The foreign ministry urged citizens to postpone travel to these two African countries and has called on citizens who are living or are on a visit to the two nations to take precautions and follow the safety instructions issued by the competent authorities.


Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania are facing outbreaks of the Marburg virus, a highly infectious and deadly disease similar to Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) said earlier.

Here's what we know about the disease:


The Marburg virus disease is a viral haemorrhagic fever that can have a fatality rate of up to 88%, according to the WHO. The virus causes severe fever, often accompanied by bleeding and organ failure.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pains
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Marburg is passed on to people from fruit bats and is from the same virus family responsible for the deadly Ebola disease.

The suspected natural source of the Marburg virus is the African fruit bat, which carries the pathogen but does not fall sick from it.

Among humans, it is spread mostly by people who have spent long periods in caves and mines populated by bats.

Vaccine

There are currently no vaccines or antiviral treatments, but potential treatments, including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies, as well as early candidate vaccines being evaluated.

Outbreak

Last week, citing nine "laboratory confirmed deaths", the Equatorial Guinea health ministry tweeted there were a further 13 positive cases, two of whom had been hospitalised and another who had recovered while "a total of 825 contacts have been followed up".

The WHO has warned of a potential large scale epidemic which could spread to neighbouring Gabon and Cameroon.

Tanzania also announced last week five deaths from Marburg, but insisted it has the spread under control after sending a rapid response team to the northwestern region of Kagera which borders Uganda.

In recent years, there have also been outbreaks of the Marburg virus in:

  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ghana
  • the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe

Inputs from Reuters/AFP

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