Since February 13, the Marburg virus epidemic has been raging in Equatorial Guinea, killing 20 people to date. This expansion of the virus in three provinces bordering Cameroon and Gabon raises fears of wider transmission. The health authorities of these countries have taken preventive measures to prevent the arrival of the virus on their territory.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the Marburg virus outbreak in Equatorial Guinea caused 20 deaths in one month. The new cases are reported in the border provinces of Kié-Ntem, Litoral and Centro Sur, all of which have international borders with Cameroon and Gabon. This expansion raises fears of wider transmission of the virus and requires an intensification of response efforts to avoid a large-scale epidemic and loss of life.
The health authorities of Cameroon and Gabon have taken preventive measures to prevent the arrival of the virus on their territory. In Cameroon, a joint commission of countries as well as WHO experts were set up to study the disease and reflect on emergency measures. In addition, analytical laboratories have been established at the border of the two countries to strengthen preparation and response to the epidemic. In Gabon, an operational epidemic response unit was created to prepare the response to the Marburg virus epidemic.
Additional UN experts will be deployed in the coming days to help with the response to this epidemic. In response to the cases of Marburg virus disease identified in Equatorial Guinea, the European Union has released an envelope of 100,000 euros in humanitarian funds to prevent any spread of the disease and help the most exposed communities in Gabon.
European funds will enable the Red Cross to provide emergency aid for capacity building of actors on the ground, awareness-raising on means of prevention and early detection of cases. The Marburg virus, similar to Ebola, is transmitted to humans by fruit bats and is spread among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces, and materials.