Cases have been found in Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning Thursday for clinicians and public health departments in the United States to be on alert for cases of a rare Ebola-like virus.
The warning was in response to outbreaks of Marburg virus disease, one in Equatorial Guinea and another in Tanzania — with neither country reporting outbreaks before this year.
So far, no cases have been reported in the US or any other outbreaks have been reported, but the CDC said the warning “provides information about these outbreaks to increase awareness of the risk of imported cases in the United States.”
In a press conference on March 21, Tanzania’s health minister announced an outbreak among a group of fishermen. Of the eight cases, five were fatal.
Meanwhile, in Equatorial Guinea, there have been 14 confirmed cases since February 7, with 10 of the patients dying, according to the CDC.
There is currently no evidence that the outbreaks in the two countries are related, and they appear to be independent clusters where the virus has flowed from animals to people, the federal health agency said.
Marburg virus disease is a rare disease caused by the Marburg virus, which is called a cousin of the Ebola virus.
The first cases was identified among European laboratory workers handling African green monkeys imported from Uganda.
The virus can prevalence either from animals to humans or through human-to-human contact or through contact with infected blood or other fluids or objects contaminated by those fluids.
According to the CDC, the incubation period — the time between infection and the onset of symptoms — can last anywhere from two to 21 days.
A person is not contagious until symptoms appear, which may include sudden fever, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal symptoms, or unexplained bleeding.
The CDC says doctors should screen for symptoms and may have been exposed to the virus while in an affected area — such as if they attended a funeral or visited a health care facility.
The disease can cause serious complications including internal bleeding and organ damage.
“Clinical diagnosis of Marburg virus disease is difficult,” says the CDC. “Many of the signs and symptoms of MVD are similar to other infectious diseases (such as malaria or typhoid fever) or viral hemorrhagic fevers that may be endemic to the area (such as Lassa fever or Ebola). This is especially true if a a case is involved.”
There is currently no known treatment for the disease with therapies focusing on supportive measures such as balancing fluids, maintaining oxygen levels and blood pressure.
According to World Health Organizationpast outbreaks have had a case fatality rate of between 24% and 88% with an average rate of 50%.