According to the World Health Organization, the risk of the Marburg virus is “very high” in parts of Africa.

How deadly is Marburg?

Marburg is one of the deadliest pathogens known to man.

The WHO speaks of a case-fatality ratio (CFR) of up to 90 percent.

However, experts estimate that it is probably closer to the 50 percent mark, similar to its cousin Ebola – another member of the Filoviridae family.

This means that out of 100 people infected with Marburg, half are likely to die.

However, scientists don’t know the infection fatality rate, which measures everyone who gets infected — not just cases that test positive.

For comparison, Covid had a CFR of about three percent when it hit the scene.

What are the telltale symptoms?

Symptoms come on suddenly and include severe headache, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. They’re getting heavier.

In the early stages of MVD – the disease that causes it – it is very difficult to distinguish it from other tropical diseases such as Ebola and malaria.

Infected patients become “ghostly,” often developing deep-set eyes and expressionless faces.

This is usually accompanied by bleeding from multiple body openings – including the nose, gums, eyes, and vagina.

Like Ebola, even dead bodies can transmit the virus to people exposed to its fluids.

How does the virus spread?

Human infections typically begin in areas where humans have been exposed to mines or burrows occupied by infected fruit bat colonies for a long time.

Fruit bats naturally harbor the virus.

However, it can then spread between people through direct contact with infected people’s bodily fluids, surfaces and materials.

Contaminated clothing and bedding are also a risk, as are burial ceremonies involving direct contact with the deceased.

In Equatorial Guinea, the virus was found in samples from deceased patients suffering from symptoms including fever, fatigue and bloody vomiting and diarrhea.

Health care workers were often infected when treating patients in Marburg.

Gavi, an international organization that promotes access to vaccines, says people in Africa should avoid eating or handling bushmeat.

Is there a vaccine?

No vaccines are currently approved to treat the virus.

The WHO called an urgent meeting on Monday about the rising cases and called in experts from around the world.

Speaking to the WHO, members of the Marburg Virus Vaccine Consortium (MARVAC) said it could take months before effective vaccines and therapeutics are available as manufacturers have to collect materials and conduct trials.

Experts identified 28 experimental vaccine candidates that could be effective against the virus – most of which were designed to fight Ebola.

Five were particularly highlighted as vaccines to be researched.

Three vaccine developers — Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Public Health Vaccines and the Sabin Vaccine Institute — said they could potentially make doses available for testing in the current outbreak.

Janssen and Sabin’s vaccines have already completed phase 1 clinical trials. However, none of the vaccines are available in large quantities.

Recently, public health vaccine vaccinations in monkeys have also been found to protect against the virus, and the Food and Drug Administration has cleared them for human testing.

How bad were previous Marburg clusters and where were they?

Before this outbreak, only 30 cases were recorded worldwide from 2007 to 2022.

Angola, in central Africa, faced the largest known outbreak in 2004. It had a 90 percent fatality rate, with 227 deaths among 252 infected, according to the Angolan government.

Last September, Ghana declared the end of a Marburg outbreak affecting the Ashanti, Savannah and Western regions of the country.

Could it reach the UK or the US?

Most outbreaks from Marburg fizzle out after infecting a few people.

Because of this, experts say the chances of it causing a pandemic are slim. Still, it’s not impossible.

Professor Whitworth told MailOnline yesterday: “Outbreaks in Marburg are always of concern because of the high mortality rate and the possibility of spreading from person to person through close contact.”

However, the speed at which the outbreak in Equatorial Guinea was discovered by officials may have helped dampen the spread of the infection so far, he advised.

He said: “This outbreak has occurred in a remote forested area in Equatorial Guinea, limiting the potential for it to spread quickly or affect many people.

“It also appears to have been discovered quickly, the number of suspected cases is low and the first death investigated occurred on January 7, so just about five weeks ago.”

But he added: “The outbreak has happened near international borders with Cameroon and Gabon, so international coordination is needed.

“So overall the risk to Equatorial Guinea and the region is moderate and the risk of spread outside the region is very low.” According to the World Health Organization, the risk of the Marburg virus is “very high” in parts of Africa.

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