Cameroon: Public Health Boss Discredits Report On Marburg Virus Infection

By Synthia Lateu

Cameroon’s Health Minister, Manaouda Malachie

Cameroon’s Health Minister, Manaouda Malachie, has dismissed claims of two suspected cases of Marburg Virus in Cameroon as previously alerted by the health delegate for the South region, Robert Mathurin Bidjang.

Health officials in the South region declared on Tuesday 14, 2023 that they suspected two teenagers to be infected by the Marburg Virus. “These are two 16-year-old children, a boy and a girl, who have no previous travel history to the affected areas in Equatorial Guinea,” Bidjang said at a meeting in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde.

“On the 13th of February, we had two suspected cases. These are two 16-year-old children, a boy and a girl, who have no previous travel history to the affected areas in Equatorial Guinea,” public health delegate Robert Mathurin Bidjang added. Forty-two people who came into contact with the two children have been identified and contact tracing was ongoing.

Cameroon had restricted movement along the border to avoid contagion following reports of an unknown, deadly haemorrhagic fever in Equatorial Guinea last week. The disease is suspected to have now crossed the border with two cases detected in Olamze, according to the public health delegate for the region.

Reacting to the information, Dr Manaouda Malachie, said: “We have just two suspected cases in Olamze. So, we have done the investigation and we confirm that it is not Marburg it is only malaria. So, for now, Cameroon does not notify any case.”

The health minister furthered that measures have been taken to better prevent the spread of the virus and call on civilians to avoid contact with animals and persons who have travelled to Equatorial Guinea and make sure persons with fever, fatigue, and blood-stained vomit and diarrhoea are isolated.

“The meeting we held and we are still running in our country is to actualize our plan and response. So, the epidemiological knowledge we have put in place here to fight against COVID-19 is updated and I think it will be the main preventive measure we have adopted” Malachie told local media.

The Ebola-like virus was first declared in neighbouring Equatorial Guinea on Monday, February 14, where nine deaths were reported and 16 cases were suspected. The Country quarantined more than 200 people. Cameroon restricted movement along the border to avoid contagion

The WHO’s country representative in Equatorial Guinea, George Ameh said surveillance has intensified. “Contact tracing, as you know, is a cornerstone of the response. We have … redeployed the COVID-19 teams that were there for contact tracing and quickly retrofitted them to help us out,” the media reported.

According to health experts, the symptoms of the Marburg Virus are similar to those of Ebola. The virus is said to have been recorded for the first time in 1967 in Marburg, Germany and is today on its 16th appearance, including 11 in Africa.

Cameroon says around 20 deaths had been recorded in a short space of time in Equatorial Guinea’s Kie-Ntem province, which borders Cameroon’s Olamze district. Photo by REUTERS-Sylvain Andzongo

Cameroon’s Ministry of Health says that the Marburg Virus is from the same family as the Ebola virus hemorrhagic fever. It is a zoonosis transmitted by direct contact with the infected animal or person. The handling of bodies, the movement of populations, and contact with soiled objects are some exposure factors. It has an incubation of 2 to 21 days with a fatality rate that can reach up to 88% during large outbreaks. So far, there are no drugs that have been proven effective, let alone a vaccine.

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