The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says the country is at moderate risk of importing Marburg virus disease.
Recall that Ghana, a neighbouring West African country, confirmed its first-ever outbreak of Marburg virus disease on July 17.
Owing to the outbreak of the virus, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) announced that two deaths were recorded while at least 98 contacts have been traced and quarantined.
The proximity of Ghana to Nigeria has raised concerns among Nigerians on the likelihood of importation of the virus to the country.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies the Marburg virus as one that causes fever as experienced by persons who contract Ebola.
Reacting to the development, Ifedayo Adetifa, director-general of the NCDC, in a statement on Wednesday, said the risk of importation of the virus to Nigeria has been reduced as the situation is under control in Ghana.
Adetifa added that no case of Marburg virus disease has been reported in Nigeria at the moment.
“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) is aware of the declaration of an outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD) in Ghana confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the 17th of July 2022,” he said.
“This is the second time this zoonotic disease has been detected in West Africa following the previous incidence in Guinea in August 2021.
“The cases were reported in two unrelated males — 26 and a 51 years old — who both died from the disease. The disease was first discovered in 1967 following outbreaks in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, and Belgrade, Serbia.
“Since then, outbreaks and sporadic cases have been reported in some African countries.
“Ghanaian public health officials are responding with support from WHO to halt the spread of the disease.
“Given the proximity of Ghana to Nigeria as well as the WHO alert, the NCDC-led a multi sectoral National Emerging Viral Haemorrhagic Diseases Working Group (EVHDWG) that coordinates preparedness efforts for MVD, and other emerging viral haemorrhagic diseases has conducted a rapid risk assessment to guide in-country preparedness activities.
“Based on available data, the overall risk of both importation of the disease and its potential impact on the Nigerian population is said to be moderate as assessed by NCDC experts and partners given the following: the proximity (same region), high traffic from Ghana and countries that share borders with Ghana, the incubation period of 21 days of the virus, heightened surveillance at point of entry, Nigeria’s capacity to respond to the outbreak in country and the fact that persons with MVD transmit the virus when they become symptomatic unlike for SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 that can also be transmitted by infected persons without symptoms.
“Nigeria has the capacity to test for the virus presently at the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja and the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital laboratory Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology.
“Diagnostic capacity can be scaled up to other laboratories if required. Nigeria has the resources (human, technical and laboratory) for prompt identification and management in the event of a single imported case.
“However, the risk of importation may be further reduced as the current situation in Ghana is under control as reported by Ghana Health Service. Active case finding is ongoing in Ghana while there is heightened surveillance in Togo and Benin.
“Therefore, the response situation may change in the coming days with the control efforts in Ghana and advisories as may be issued by the World Health Organisation.
“In addition, many of the contacts under follow-up in Ghana will soon exit the 21-day quarantine period and so far, there have been no secondary cases reported.”