The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Tanzania had declared the end of its first-ever outbreak of Marburg, a deadly Ebola-like virus with a fatality rate of up to 88%. Nine cases were recorded in the outbreak, declared in March in the northwest Kagera region. Six of the nine people who contracted the virus died. Marburg is a highly infectious disease spread from fruit bats to humans. It can also spread through contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids. There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for Marburg, but early diagnosis and treatment can improve the chances of survival.
WHO said timely intervention by its local office and government efforts helped prevent the disease from spreading. “Tanzania has been able to end this outbreak and limit the potentially devastating impacts of a highly infectious disease,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa. The last confirmed case in Tanzania tested negative on April 19th. An outbreak is declared over after a mandatory countdown of 42 days. Scientists say that rapid human development has pushed people deeper into the habitats of bats that transmit Marburg, Ebola, and other viruses, amplifying the risk of global pandemics.
Over the past two years, Marburg outbreaks have occurred in four African countries where the virus had not previously been detected in humans, including Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea, which has responded to an outbreak since February. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a media briefing that the outbreak in Equatorial Guinea would be declared over the next week if no other cases are detected there.