Nigeria Equipped to Handle Marburg Outbreak, Says NCDC DG

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Director General of the NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) has affirmed that Nigeria has the capacity – technical, human (health workforce) and diagnostic – required to respond effectively in the event of a Marburg virus disease (MVD) outbreak.

Director General of the NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, disclosed this in a press release on Tuesday, following the announcement of the Marburg virus outbreak in Equatorial Guinea on 13 February 2023.

MVD is a viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) caused by a virus from the same family as the Ebola virus disease. The primary route of transmission is from fruit bats to humans. Human-to-human transmission is possible through contact with the body fluids of an infected person.

Lab tests were conducted on samples taken from individuals who had fever, tiredness, vomit with blood in it, and diarrhoea in two areas of Kie Ntem province in the western part of the country, due to the nine deaths recorded. As of now, one positive case, nine deaths, and 16 cases of MVD have been reported in Equatorial Guinea.

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There are currently no cases of Marburg virus disease in Nigeria; NCDC confirmed, while relevant ministries, departments, agencies, and partners have taken proactive measures to mitigate the risk of cross-border importation.

“Nigeria has taken action against viral haemorrhagic fever epidemics, such as the Ebola Outbreak in 2014, and has gradually built up its readiness and response abilities. Currently, we have the capability to test for MVD at the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) in Abuja and the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital laboratory Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology (CHAZVY).

“In order to increase diagnostic capability, other laboratories in cities that are considered major points of entry will be established. Additionally, if necessary, other laboratories will be created. A response system is operational, which includes trained rapid response teams and an effective infection prevention and control programme to limit the risk of spread, if a single imported case is discovered,” he stated.

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In order to inform Nigeria's preparedness for the recent outbreak in Equatorial Guinea, the multi-sectoral National Emerging Viral Haemorrhagic Disease Technical Working Group (NEVHD TWG), which is led by NCDC, conducted a dynamic risk assessment. The NEVHD TWG is responsible for coordinating the national response to all VHFs across pillars including surveillance, laboratory, case management, and risk communication.

Based on available data, the overall risk of importation of the Marburg virus and the impact on the health of Nigerians has been assessed as “MODERATE” and several measures have been taken to strengthen preparedness for the MVD in Nigeria, according to Adetifa. Some of the measures put in place are: “Activation of NCDC Incident Coordination Centre (ICC) to alert mode; Development of an emergency incident action plan for MVD and review of case definitions for MVD”.

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Presently, the NCDC recommends that Nigerian residents and citizens should avoid all but essential travels to Equatorial Guinea. People who have recently traveled to or through Equatorial Guinea should call 6232 or their State Ministry of Health hotline immediately for assessment and testing instead of going to any medical facility if they experience symptoms like fever, muscle pain, sore throat, diarrhoea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising.

 

 

 

 

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