An experimental Marburg virus vaccine is being tested by the WHO due to an epidemic in Equatorial Guinea.

By Aria Bendix; Edited by News Gate Team

The World Health Organization convened an urgent meeting to evaluate vaccine candidates after nine deaths and 16 suspected cases were reported.

Marburg virus particles (blue) both budding and attached to the surface of infected cells (yellow)
.Image Point FR / NIH/NIAID/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Equatorial Guinea, which reported the virus’s first outbreak on Monday, is where the World Health Organization plans to test an experimental Marburg vaccine.

16 potential patients are being held in isolation, while nine deaths have been confirmed. Additionally, 15 asymptomatic close connections of affected patients are being monitored by health officials.

The WHO estimates that the typical mortality rate for Marburg virus sickness is over 50%, although no vaccine or antiviral medication has been approved to treat it.

The WHO called an emergency meeting on Tuesday to review a number of potential vaccine candidates that might be used during the outbreak. The WHO formed the cooperation in 2021 to pursue a Marburg vaccine, and it gathered together vaccine developers, researchers, and government representatives at the summit.

“Everything that we do needs to be done with alacrity,” Dr. Philip Krause, the chair of the WHO Covid Vaccines Research Expert Group, said at the meeting. “Even if we’re going to do a study over many outbreaks, the more participants in that study that could be enrolled at each outbreak, the more likely we are to reach a conclusion sooner.”

People can spread Marburg virus through blood, other bodily fluids or contaminated objects or surfaces. Past outbreaks, mostly in Africa, have had death rates of 24% to 88%, depending on the virus strain and the strength of efforts to control transmission.

Marburg belongs to the same family of viruses as Ebola, so the diseases can look similar. Both are characterized by viral hemorrhagic fever, a condition that can cause internal bleeding and damage multiple organ systems.

According to the Centers for Sickness Control and Prevention, Marburg virus disease typically begins with fever, chills, headache, or muscle aches, followed by a rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, or chest or stomach pain. The transition of “dry” to “wet” symptoms in Ebola is comparable.

The WHO has increased contact tracking, according to George Ameh, the organization’s representative in Equatorial Guinea. He estimated that the first case of the outbreak occurred on January 7; however, the health ministry of the nation only became aware of it one month later. He said, “Deaths have occurred among close family members and those who attended their graves.”

“While the [health ministry] has done a great job of tracking cases, I think we would be foolish to assume that no cases have gone undetected,” Sullivan said.

By Aria Bendix; Edited by News Gate Team

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