Nigeria on alert following the announcement of the Marburg Virus Disease outbreak in Equatorial Guinea


news desk Laugh

the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) is aware of the first outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD) declared on Equatorial Guinea on February 13, 2023. The deaths of nine people prompted laboratory testing of samples from individuals presenting with symptoms of fever, fatigue, bloody vomiting and diarrhea in two communities in the western county of Ki Ntim. To date, one confirmed case, nine deaths and 16 suspected cases of MVD have been reported in Equatorial Guinea.

Photo/Robert Herrmann

MVD is a viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) caused by a virus from the same family as the Ebola virus disease. Primary route of transmission from fruit bats to humans. Human-to-human transmission is possible through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. Currently, there are no vaccines or treatments available to prevent and treat this strain of the virus. Early initiation of supportive treatment has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of death due to MVD.

There are currently no cases of Marburg virus disease in Nigeria, however, NCDC and relevant ministries, departments, agencies and partners have taken proactive measures to mitigate the risk of cross-border importation. The National Emerging Viral Haemorrhagic Disease Multisectoral Technical Working Group (NEVHD TWG), led by the NCDC, is responsible for coordinating the national response to all hemorrhagic fevers across pillars including surveillance, laboratory, case management, and risk communication. NEVHD TWG as it always has done in the following previous news of the MVD outbreak carried out a dynamic risk assessment to inform Nigeria’s readiness following this latest outbreak in Equatorial Guinea on 17th February 2023.

Based on the available data, the overall risk of Marburg virus importation and its impact on the health of Nigerians has been evaluated as moderate for the following reasons:

• The extent of the disease outbreak in Equatorial Guinea has not yet been confirmed.

• The possibility of importing into Nigeria is high due to the direct flight between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.

• Near Equatorial Guinea to Nigeria

• Potential spread of the disease in Nigeria after importation is high due to gatherings and travel associated with the upcoming national elections.

• The case fatality rate ranges from 24 to 88%.

• There is currently no effective drug for treatment or licensed vaccine for MVD prevention.

The risk assessment also shows that Nigeria has the capacity – technical, human (health workforce) and diagnostic – required to respond effectively in the event of an outbreak. Nigeria has also responded to epidemics of viral hemorrhagic fevers such as the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and has strengthened its preparedness and response capabilities over the years. We have the diagnostic capacity to test for MVD currently at the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) in Abuja and the University of Lagos Hospital Teaching Laboratory Center for Human and Animal Virology (CHAZVY). However, the diagnostic capacity will be extended to other laboratories in POE cities and others as appropriate. An effective response system is in place with control capabilities (trained rapid response teams, an effective infection prevention and control program) in place to reduce the risk of spread in the event of a single incoming case.

Several actions have been taken to strengthen preparedness for the Mobility Examination in Nigeria. These include:

• The National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) Incident Coordination Center has been activated for alert mode.

• An emergency incident action plan for the MVD has been initiated.

• Review and update case definitions for the MVD if needed.

MVD guidelines are currently under development

• NRL and CHAZVY have the ability to promptly test and diagnose MVD cases if required.

• Began following persons of interest upon their arrival from Equatorial Guinea.

• Control of entry points has been tightened with the use of the pre-boarding passenger health declaration and screening form.

• Trained rapid response teams stand ready to be deployed in the event of an outbreak.

• A medical countermeasures plan is being developed.

• Amplify risk communication and engage with countries and partners to enhance preparedness activities that include reviewing risk communication protocols, plans and messages in the event of an outbreak.

• Nigeria has an effective nationwide Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) program with guidelines and training packages developed for healthcare workers.

The NCDC advises Nigerian citizens and residents to avoid all but essential travel to Equatorial Guinea at this time. People with a recent travel history to or transit through Equatorial Guinea in the past 21 days who have symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, sore throat, diarrhoea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain or unexplained bleeding or bruising should go to any health facility but call 6232 or The state health department’s hotline is available immediately for evaluation and testing.

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