Biorisk Brief

Biorisk Briefs are issued to alert our readers of emerging events with potential significant consequences around the world.

Deaths from Marburg Virus Disease Increase in Central Africa

March 29, 2023

Equatorial Guinea is struggling to contain an outbreak of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD), a deadly hemorrhagic fever spread through direct contact with infected people or animals. At least 27 deaths have been attributed to the outbreak across three provinces, although only 8 have been laboratory confirmed. Health officials recently announced that four cases were found in Bata, Equatorial Guinea’s main economic hub, increasing the potential for the outbreak to worsen. Slow confirmation of the MVD cases and insufficient contact tracing suggests more cases will be identified in Equatorial Guinea. Porous borders and limited disease surveillance may facilitate the spread of MVD to neighboring Cameroon and Gabon.

From 2014-2016, West Africa experienced a massive hemorrhagic fever outbreak caused by Ebola, a virus in the same family as Marburg virus. Estimates of global social and economic losses from this outbreak range up to $53.19B. Ebola spread rapidly due to limited previous exposure in dense urban areas, raising concerns the current Marburg outbreak could follow a similar path.

Threat Level:
Currently, this outbreak does not pose an immediate threat to enterprise businesses operating outside of Equatorial Guinea; however, the emergence of cases in an urban center increases the risk of exported cases through international travel. The outbreak poses a significant risk for enterprise businesses operating in Equatorial Guinea and a moderate risk for those with operations in neighboring Cameroon and Gabon.

The Public Health Company first alerted PHC PharosTM platform users of this outbreak on February 11, when eight people had reportedly died of an unknown illness. PHC is also tracking an ongoing MVD outbreak in Tanzania and a cluster of deaths due to an unknown illness in neighboring Burundi.


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