Nigerians at Risk of Contracting Marburg Virus Disease – NCDC

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has increased surveillance at the nation’s borders to prevent an outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus disease (MVD), even as it said the country faces moderate risk of importation.

Marburg virus is a hemorrhagic fever virus of the Filoviridae family of viruses and a member of the species Marburg marburgvirus, genus Marburgvirus. Marburg virus causes Marburg virus disease in primates, a form of viral hemorrhagic fever. The virus is considered to be extremely dangerous

The NCDC  said no case of the disease has been reported in the country but urged health workers to maintain a high index of suspicion and observe standard precautions, adding that its Incident Coordination Centre (ICC) is already in alert mode.

In a statement in Abuja, yesterday, NCDC Director General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, said there is no treatment or vaccine for MVD. However, infected persons could benefit from supportive care and treatment of specific symptoms, which improve chances of survival.

He assured that Nigeria has capacity to test for the virus at the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja and the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital Laboratory Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology.

Adetifa said, given the proximity of Ghana to Nigeria and an alert by World Health Organisation (WHO), the NCDC-led multi-sectoral National Emerging Viral Haemorrhagic Diseases Working Group (EVHDWG), which coordinates preparedness for MVD and other emerging viral haemorrhagic diseases, has conducted a rapid risk assessment to guide in-country vigilance.

He said based on available data, overall risk of importation of the disease and potential impact on Nigerians are moderate.

This followed assessment by NCDC experts and partners who considered: proximity (same region); high traffic from Ghana and countries that share borders with Ghana; the virus’ incubation period of 21 days; heightened surveillance at point of entry; Nigeria’s capacity to respond to the outbreak in-country and the fact that persons with MVD transmit the virus when they become symptomatic, unlike SARS-CoV-2 (that causes COVID-19), which can be transmitted without symptoms.

He said diagnostic capacity could be scaled up to other laboratories if required, noting that Nigeria has resources (human, technical and laboratory) for prompt identification and management, in the event of a single imported case.

He said NCDC is also amplifying risk communication efforts, even as it continues to work with states and partners to strengthen preparedness.

The NCDC boss advised Nigerians to avoid non-essential travel to locations where the outbreak has been reported and prevent direct contact with the blood, saliva, vomit, urine and other body fluids of people.

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