FROM WUHAN TO AFRICA: WHY ARE BATS BEING CRIMINALISED?
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Africa is in the headlines for the medical community, where a virus outbreak has alerted everyone. This virus is also linked to bats, which raises concerns about how the pandemic started. Of course, no one wants another part of the covid-series, but this one, known as the Marburg virus, is proving to be deadlier. It causes hemorrhagic fever and has a high fatality rate. Since the virus is related to the ebola virus, countries have begun issuing advisories.
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What exactly is the Marburg virus and how does it spread? Do you need to worry?
A virus that causes a fever that causes internal bleeding and kills more than half the people it infects. Patients bleed in many body parts, and the blood loss is what kills them. You should be on the lookout for these symptoms if you have visited Africa or have come into touch with someone who has.
- High fever, lethargy
- Muscle pain
- Severe headaches
- Blood in the vomit
- Blood in the stools
Marburg virus can be spread from animal to human or from human to human by direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs, or bodily fluids of an infected person or through surfaces that have been contaminated with these fluids through damaged skin or mucous membranes.
In Tanzania, 8 people contracted the virus of which 5 have died and the authority is mapping the contacts and trying to figure out the extent of the virus spread.
In Equatorial Guinea, 7 people have died this was when the country had about 9 confirmed cases.
The virus’s fatality rate is the biggest worry. It is between 23 to 90% and the world is certainly not prepared for such a deadly virus again which is why countries are on alert. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention advised travelers to be cautious. They were warned to avoid sick persons and watch out for signs of illness. Citizens of Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been warned against visiting Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea. The Marburg virus is heavily influenced by bats, similar to covid-19. Fruit bats are the reservoir for human transmission. Pigs and African green monkeys can also contract the virus. The Marburg virus was first recognized in 1967, there were simultaneous outbreaks of the virus across Germany in Marburg and Frankfurt and Serbia’s Belgrade. The outbreak was linked to a lab that used Ugandan-imported African green monkeys. Previously cases have been reported from Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
The most severe outbreak was reported in Angola in 2005 which killed 90% of the people it infected. Now to the ultimate question: Is there a vaccine for the virus? Unfortunately, there isn’t, and there is no proper treatment, only symptomatic. The important thing is to recognize the symptoms and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
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Written by: Dr. Pratiksha Shankarlal Nathani, MBBS
Maharashtra University of Health Sciences,
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