‘It’s Just A Matter Of Time’: Scientists Issue Warning As Deadly, Ebola-Like Virus Spreads

(Photo by Florence PANOUSSIAN and - / AFP) (Photo by FLORENCE PANOUSSIAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Scientists around the world issued a series of warnings as the deadly hemorrhagic Marburg virus takes hold in Africa, and could spread globally, according to a report published Monday.

Marburg virus, a disease closely related to Ebola, resurfaced in Equatorial Guinea in February 2023. A second, separate outbreak was then reported in Tanzania in March. Despite officials from the World Health Organization reassuring the world that all was under control at the time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quickly told doctors to be on the lookout for potential cases globally.

Up to 90% of those infected with Marburg die of the virus, and it spreads through direct contact between humans, and humans and animals. A report published Monday by the Daily Beast claimed that outbreaks of Marburg are growing more frequent as humans expand into regions once occupied by animals that carry the virus.

Due to the presentation of the disease and the rapid rate at which it kills, it’s hard for scientists to do the necessary research to figure out how to mitigate the worst impacts. “We don’t have data from human trials,” Director of Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit, Brian Garibaldi, told the outlet.

The fact the two latest outbreaks don’t appear to be linked doesn’t make things easier. “In Tanzania the outbreak seems to be dwindling while it appears to be spreading in Equatorial Guinea, where more cases have been reported,” George Mason University professor Amira Roess noted. “The situation in Equatorial Guinea is unclear in part due to a lack of surveillance, fear of reporting and other political and economic pressures. This has a lot of us worried because without timely surveillance data and information this outbreak can spread and cause significant disruption and death.”

At the time of writing, at least 33 people have been infected across both countries. Some of those cases are reportedly linked to Bata, Equatorial Guinea’s main transportation hub. The largest Marburg outbreak occurred in Angola in 2004, killing 329 of 374 people infected.

Due to the nature of the disease, it appears almost impossible to develop a vaccine. And the locale of most outbreaks makes things even more complicated in slowing the spread. People who reside in these regions of Africa, “don’t have access to electricity all the time,” Garibaldi noted. “There are problems with water supply.” (RELATED: ‘Everyone Was Throwing Up’: More Than 100 Students Contract Virus At School Dance)

The outlet rhetorically asked how pharmaceutical firms are supposed to conduct the necessary research required for mitigation if they can’t even keep the lights on. “It’s just a matter of time before we see a viral hemorrhagic pandemic,” Roess concluded.