By Bella Conte 

The Marburg Virus Disease outbreak in Equatorial Guinea has officially ended after 42 days without any new cases.

The outbreak, a first of its kind in the country, has led to 12 deaths and 17 confirmed cases.  All the 23 probable cases reported died while four patients recovered from the virus and have been enrolled in a survivors programme to receive psychosocial and other post-recovery support.

It affected five districts in four of Equatorial Guinea’s eight provinces. Bata district in the Western Littoral province was worst hit with 11 laboratory-confirmed cases reported.

“While outbreak-prone diseases continue to pose a major health threat in Africa, we can bank on the region’s growing expertise in health emergency response to act quickly and decisively to safeguard health and avert widespread loss of life,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.

“The hard work by Equatorial Guinea’s health workers and support by partner organizations has been crucial in ending this outbreak. WHO continues to work with countries to improve measures to detect and respond effectively to disease outbreaks.”

WHO continues to work with Equatorial Guinea to maintain measures such as surveillance and testing to enable prompt action in case of any future virus flare-ups. The training provided during the outbreak has strengthened the country’s capacity for readiness.

In Africa the first outbreak of Marburg was recorded in South Africa in 1975, followed by two others in Kenya in the 1980s. Since then, outbreaks have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea and Uganda and most recently Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania.