DOH assures preparations against deadly Ebola-like Marburg virus disease

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) assured the Filipino public that preparations are already underway against the deadly and contagious Marburg virus.

DOH assures preparations against deadly Ebola-like Marburg virus disease
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire says there’s very low possibility that the Marburg virus disease can reach the Philippines | Photo Courtesy: ABS-CBN

In a press interview on Wednesday, July 20, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire tried to allay the growing concerns of the public on the Marburg virus, the highly contagious virus that causes fatal hemorrhagic fever.

According to Vergeire, the possibility of the Marburg virus entering the Philippines is low because it's endemic in Africa. However, she assured that the health agency is already making preparations.

She said, "So I think the risk of this going in our country at ito ay kumalat sa ating bansa ay napakababa. But nevertheless syempre laging handa dapat, so ang Kagawaran ng Kalusugan simula nung na-receive ang report na ito, tayo po naghahanda na."

Vergeire added that possible points of entry have been tapped to be wary against individuals suspected of having the Marburg virus.

"We give information to our surveillance offices and of course sa ating port of entries para kasama po ito sa mga binabatayang sakit dito sa ating bansa. 'Yun pong probability na makapasok po ang ganitong sakit sa 'ting bansa is still at low risk," she said.

Concerns and fears about the Marburg virus quickly circulated worldwide after 2 cases were confirmed in Ghana, Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that the 2 patients who tested positive for the Marburg virus died.

What is Marburg virus disease?

According to the WHO, the Marburg virus disease causes hemorrhagic fever with a fatality rate that can go as high as 88%. It's quite similar to the Ebola virus, which is rare but has the potential to cause a health outbreak.

The Marburg virus initially came from mines or caves inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies. Now, it can easily be spread through human contact. It can be passed through broken skin or mucous membranes, blood secretions, body fluids, and contaminated surfaces.

Initial symptoms are:
  • Starts with an abruptly high fever
  • Severe headache and body malaise
  • Severe watery diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

As symptoms persist, patients will experience "ghost-like” features with deep-set eyes, expressionless faces, and extreme lethargy.

Severe hemorrhagic bleeding will occur between the 5th and 7th days. Bleeding will happen in multiple areas from the nose, gums, feces, vomit, etc. After severe blood loss, death will happen.

— Sally, The Summit Express

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