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The World Health Organization on Sunday confirmed the first two cases in Ghana of Marburg virus, a virus of the family filoviridae, like the Ebola virus. It is very contagious and causes a high fever, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting: the first symptoms are usually a sudden fever, severe headache and chest pain. According to the World Health Organization, in previous outbreaks, Marburg virus had a very high lethality rate, killing between 24 and 88 percent of those infected. The virus is initially transmitted to humans by flying foxes (also called fruit bats), but infection can also occur between people, and at the moment there is no vaccine.

The two cases who tested positive for the virus are two unrelated people in the Ashanti region of southern Ghana: both later died of illness caused by the virus. The World Health Organization said it is monitoring more than 90 people they may have come into contact with.

Last year, the virus was actually found in a patient in another West African country, Guinea, where there were no other cases. In recent years, there have been Marburg virus infections in other African countries such as Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, where in 2005 more than 200 people died from the virus.

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