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Ghana confirms first cases of deadly virus

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GHANA has confirmed its first two cases of the deadly Marburg virus, a highly infectious disease in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola.

It says both patients died recently in hospital in the southern Ashanti region.

Their samples came back positive earlier this month and have now been verified by a laboratory in Senegal.

Health officials in the West African nation say 98 people are now under quarantine as suspected contact cases, as reported by BBC.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO), which is supporting the country’s health authorities, has praised Ghana’s swift response.

“This is good because without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa director.

No treatment yet exists for Marburg – but doctors say drinking plenty of water and treating specific symptoms improves a patient’s chances of survival.

The virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads between humans through the transmission of bodily fluids.

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It is a severe, often fatal illness with symptoms including headache, fever, muscle pains, vomiting blood and bleeding.

Officials are warning people to keep away from caves and to thoroughly cook all meat products before consumption.

This is the second time that Marburg has been identified in West Africa.

There was one confirmed case in Guinea last year, but that outbreak was declared over in September, five weeks after the case was identified.

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Elsewhere on the continent, previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda, the WHO says.

The virus killed more than 200 people in Angola in 2005, the deadliest outbreak on record according to the global health body.

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