Marburg virus poses ‘no risk’ to general population, expert says

The researcher of the Foundation for Biomedical Health Research of the Valencian Community (Fisabio) Salvador Peiró has stated that. the Marburg virus “does not pose a risk” to the population generatesl. “It is not a general alert, it is a case to be controlled and that’s it,” he said.

This was explained by Peiró in an interview with Cadena SER and collected by Europa Press, after the Comunitat Valenciana activated this Friday the protocol for a suspected case of the Marburg virus in a 34-year-old man presenting symptoms compatible with the disease and who had been in Equatorial Guinea for a period of time that could correspond to the incubation and development of the disease.

The Fisabio expert explained that the symptoms of the virus are. “similar to those of Ebola: fever, vomiting, diarrhea, hemorrhages and quite a lot of muscle pain in general.“. In fact, he has pointed out that the suspected patient will be “in very bad general condition”. “It’s not a specific pain somewhere, but the general condition is very bad,” he said.

“Although in Africa there have been some cases of people who have come into contact with bats, in the rest of the world most cases are by direct contact with fluids or secretions of the infected person.“He stressed that the virus “is not transmitted when the person is asymptomatic either, as it has an incubation period of five to ten days”. In addition, he recalled that the first outbreak of this virus was detected in the 1970s in a German laboratory, located in the city of Marburg, which worked with animals imported from Africa.

Regarding the mortality rate of the disease, he stressed that, as with other viruses, it is “a lottery”. In Africa, where he stated that there have been “some outbreaks, although fewer than with Ebola”, the mortality rate stands at “around 80 or 90%”while in Europe there have been “very few cases” and mortality is “20 or 25%”. “It also depends on the site and the aggressiveness of the strain,” he said.

Despite sharing several symptoms with Ebola, Peiró has ruled out that it is this disease. “The patient comes from Guinea, where there is a declared outbreak of the Marburg virus. and now there are no outbreaks of Ebola,” he said, adding that in order to declare the case as a suspected case of the virus “symptoms and exposure in the place where it comes from are combined”.

Confirmation of the case

Biological specimens from the patient have been sent to the reference laboratory of the Instituto de Salud Carlos III de Madrid for the possible confirmation of the case. In this sense, Peiró confirmed that the results of the tests are expected to be available this Saturday or Sunday. However, he stressed that “during the first two or three days of symptoms of the virus, some cases are still negative in the tests”. “So, if it comes out positive, it is positive; but if it comes out negative, a second test will have to be done two or three days later”.

Communities “quite prepared”

The Fisabio researcher has stated that all the autonomous communities are “quite prepared” for health management in the case of detecting other patients suspected of having the virus, as he has stressed that there are hospitals with high isolation unitso to “handle these situations.” “It is not an exceptional situation from the point of view of the general population and the staff treating the patient is equipped,” he reiterated.

The patient suspected of suffering from the Marburg virus in València is hospitalized in the High-Level Isolation Unit of the Hospital Universitario y Politécnico La Fe. “The staff that attends him is wearing special equipment, everything is disinfected and the air is filtered,” Peiró stressed, while noting that only “there is a risk of contagion for people who have been in contact with the suspected case since the symptoms appear”.

“In fact, their relatives and the medical personnel who have treated them in the first instance, who will not have been protected, will have to be followed, but not isolated, because they do not transmit the virus. You just take their temperature and see,” he remarked.

“There is no specific treatment.”

On the other hand, Peiró maintained that currently “there is no specific antiviral treatment” for the Marburg virus. Thus, he pointed out that, “there are some experimental treatments with antivirals that are used in other things–such as a vaccine against Ebola–but they are not approved and are only experimental studies”.

In this line, he has pointed out that the measures consist of a “support treatment” to “maintain hydration and all the constants.” “We try to keep him alive until the acute phase of the virus passes and he starts to recover,” he concluded.

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