The announcement was made after two unrelated patients from Ghana’s southern Ashanti region, both of whom later died, tested positive for the virus.
The WHO said more than 90 contacts were being monitored for patients who showed symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting.
According to the WHO, Marburg is a highly contagious viral hemorrhagic fever in the same family as the better known Ebola virus disease and has a mortality ratio of up to 88%. “The disease begins suddenly, with high fever, severe headache and malaise,” it said.
The WHO explained that the virus is transmitted from fruit bats to humans and then human-to-human through direct contact with bodily fluids or surfaces of infected people and those contaminated with these fluids.
The global health body said containment measures were being put in place and more resources would be deployed in response to the outbreak in Ghana. The WHO also warned that “without immediate and decisive action, Marburg could easily get out of hand.”
There are no approved vaccines or antiviral treatments for Marburg virus. However, with care, including oral or intravenous rehydration and treatment of specific symptoms, a patient’s chances of survival can be improved, the WHO said.
According to the WHO, countries at high risk of resurgence of the virus have been contacted “and are on alert.”