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Updated April 2023
In recent weeks, the Marburg virus has sparked concern after outbreaks were reported in Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania. As a result, several nations worldwide are taking precautions to prevent the potential spread of the virus and have implemented strict measures to avoid the possibility of another pandemic.
In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of the Marburg virus, available treatments, and the countries that have imposed travel restrictions in response to the recent outbreaks.
Table of Contents
What is the Marburg virus?
The Marburg virus is a highly infectious pathogen that causes a severe and often fatal illness known as Marburg hemorrhagic fever. It is closely related to the Ebola virus, and both belong to the Filoviridae family. The virus has an estimated fatality rate of up to 88%, making it a serious public health concern.
The virus is believed to be transmitted to humans from African fruit bats, which are commonly found in caves, similar to the Ebola virus. Currently, outbreaks of the Marburg virus have been reported in two African countries, Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea, causing concern among health officials and the general public.
What are the symptoms of the Marburg virus?
The Marburg virus causes a range of symptoms, including a severe and often fatal illness known as Marburg hemorrhagic fever. The symptoms of this disease typically begin suddenly and can include:
- headache (often severe)
- muscle aches
- stomach pain
As the disease progresses, patients can develop hemorrhagic fever, which is characterized by bleeding from multiple sites, including the nose, mouth, and rectum. Organ failure can also occur, which can be life-threatening.
What are the available treatments?
Currently, there is no specific vaccine or antiviral medication available for the treatment of Marburg virus infection. However, patients can receive supportive care to manage their symptoms and complications. This includes:
- balancing the patient’s fluids and electrolytes
- maintaining oxygen levels and blood pressure
- replacing lost blood and clotting factors
- treating any complicating infections
Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment has been shown to improve survival rates for patients with Marburg virus disease.
Marburg virus travel restrictions
In response to the Marburg virus outbreak, several countries have implemented stringent measures, including travel bans and restrictions to regions impacted by the virus.
The UAE has responded to the emergence of the Marburg virus in Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania by introducing new restrictions for UAE travellers to these countries. The government has advised UAE citizens who are currently visiting these areas to take precautionary measures and comply with safety guidelines provided by the appropriate authorities. For instance, UAE citizens and residents who have travelled back to the country from the affected areas must isolate themselves and seek medical attention at the nearest health facility or emergency department within hospitals. It is important to follow these guidelines and stay up-to-date on the latest information to prevent the spread of the virus.
The government of Saudi Arabia has issued cautionary advice to its citizens against travelling to Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea due to the Marburg virus outbreak. The restrictions will remain in place until the situation is under control.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has implemented measures to prevent the spread of the Marburg virus to the United States. The CDC advises US travelers to avoid contact with individuals who are sick and to monitor themselves for any symptoms for three weeks after leaving affected areas.
In response to the situation in Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea, the Omani government has released a new travel guideline. The guideline recommends that travelers from Oman postpone their trips to the countries affected by the Marburg virus. However, if they must travel to these areas for urgent reasons, they must adhere to the following regulations:
- avoid contact with individuals displaying symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and rashes, and avoid visiting disease-endemic regions in those countries
- refrain from contact with blood and any bodily fluids of other people
- avoid visiting caves and mines where bats reside, and avoid touching them
- avoid contact with animals such as chimpanzees and gorillas
- travellers arriving from endemic countries must isolate themselves from others and go to the nearest health institution when the following symptoms appear: fever, chills, muscle pain, rash, sore throat, diarrhoea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, unexplained bleeding from anywhere on the body, or bruising during or after travel up to 21 days. They must also inform the doctor of their travel to a country impacted by Marburg virus disease.
Airlines operating flights between Oman and the affected countries must also inform their passengers about the aforementioned guidelines.