The Ministry of Health recommended that citizens avoid traveling to both the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and the United Republic of Tanzania, based on what was announced by the health authorities in the two countries regarding monitoring outbreaks of “Marburg” virus disease, and based on the recommendations of the Gulf Center for Disease Prevention and Control, until the announcement of the disease control.

The Ministry also recommended, in a statement yesterday, to Kuwaiti nationals residing in the two countries and their neighboring countries, to follow the preventive measures announced by the local health authorities in those countries, and to take the necessary preventive measures to reduce the risks of infection transmission, reports Al-Rai daily.

The Ministry announced its continuous follow-up with the regional and international authorities of the latest developments in the health situation in those countries, as well as the follow-up of the epidemiological situation of the disease in the countries of the world, provided that it issues the necessary instructions in the event of other developments emerging in a timely manner. For its part, health sources ruled out “the possibility of the virus transmitting to the country, stressing that this is not possible or weak, with the absence of direct airlines with the two countries.”

The World Health Organization is accelerating the pace to deal with the deadly virus, and to find quick ways to develop vaccines for it, especially since, according to the organization, it is very virulent, and the death rate in it reaches 88 percent.

Health sources revealed to Al-Rai that “the possibility of the Marburg virus turning into a global pandemic is out of the question, but its seriousness lies in the high death rate due to it, exceeding 88 percent.”

Ways of transmission

— Direct contact with fluids coming out of the infected person’s body, including blood, saliva, sweat, and vomit

— Marital relations, where the virus is present in the semen of the infected person for about 7 days after recovery.

— Contact with surfaces and tools contaminated with the fluids of an infected individual.

— Cuts or scrapes, or through the membranes of the mouth, nose, or eyes.

Symptoms of infection

— Initial symptoms: lethargy, fever, chills, muscle pain and headache.

— After 3 to 5 days: Symptoms worsen to include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, cramps, skin rashes and neurological changes, such as confusion, seizures, and delirium.

— After 5 to 7 days: severe bleeding occurs from the nose, gums, or vagina, noticing the appearance of blood in the stool or vomit, with disturbances in kidney and liver functions, failure of the body systems, a decrease in white blood cells, platelets, and blood clotting.

The virus was discovered in 1967 in Serbia and in the city of Marburg, Germany, hence the virus acquired its name, as 31 severe cases were recorded at that time among scientific laboratory workers after many of them contracted hemorrhagic fever, as a result of which 7 cases died.

Fruit bats are the main source of Marburg virus, and there are other animals that may contribute to its transmission to humans, such as African green monkeys that caused the first infections in Germany in 1967, and pigs are considered a possible host for the virus.

There are no effective vaccines or approved antiviral therapies to treat this virus.

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