The authorities in Equatorial Guinea on Monday said the country had reported its first outbreak of the Marburg virus, a highly infectious disease in the same family of viruses that cause Ebola.
Nine people are suspected to have died from the viral haemorrhagic fever in the country’s western Kie Ntem province.
Further tests done on one sample that was collected and shipped to the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, turned positive.
The World Health Organization says 16 people are now under quarantine as suspected contact cases. The health body has deployed a team of experts to the area to support health workers.
Last week, the country’s Health Minister Mitoha Ondo’o Ayekaba said preliminary investigations linked the deaths to people who attended a funeral ceremony.
Movement has been restricted around two villages where most cases have been reported. Contact tracing is currently ongoing.
This is the first outbreak recorded in the country and the third in West Africa. Ghana confirmed one case last year and Guinea the previous year.
The virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads between humans through the transmission of bodily fluids.
Although there are no vaccines or treatments, those diagnosed are advised to drink plenty of water as doctors treat a patient’s specific symptoms.
Previous outbreaks and sporadic cases of Marburg in Africa have been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.