A man in West Africa died of the Marburg virus, which causes internal bleeding and organ failure.
The World Health Organization said the disease was capable of spreading far and wide.
WHO says fruit bats can pass the disease to humans.
A man in the West African country of Guinea has died after contracting the Marburg virus, which causes internal bleeding and organ failure. The World Health Organization on Monday confirmed the man's death and said the "highly infectious disease" could "spread far and wide."
It is the first time the Marburg virus has been detected in Guinea, per WHO.
According to WHO, the man visited a local clinic to seek treatment but his condition deteriorated quickly. Researchers at Guinea's national hemorrhagic fever laboratory and the Institut Pasteur in Senegal confirmed the Marburg-virus diagnosis.
WHO said the virus could pass to people from fruit bats and is transmitted from one person to another through surfaces and bodily fluids.
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The organization said the illness tended to begin with an abrupt and sudden onset of high fever and headaches, with severe internal bleeding occurring within seven days. WHO said the virus had death rates of 24% to 88% in past outbreaks.
"We applaud the alertness and the quick investigative action by Guinea's health workers," Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director in Africa, said in the organization's Monday statement.
"We are working with the health authorities to implement a swift response that builds on Guinea's past experience and expertise in managing Ebola, which is transmitted in a similar way," Moeti said.
Contact-tracing efforts are underway to identify the man's close associates. In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Georges Ki-Zerbo, the WHO country head in Guinea, said 155 people were identified as close contacts. He said they would be observed for three weeks.
"It is active surveillance. The contacts are kept at home, isolated from other members of the family. They are visited every day to check on potential symptoms," Ki-Zerbo told Reuters.
"Globally, the approach to combating Marburg would not be different from Ebola. The only difference is that there is no vaccine or drug specifically directed to the virus. Only supportive care is available."
WHO said the Marburg virus was from the same virus family as Ebola, which has a 50% fatality rate on average. A 2014 outbreak of Ebola saw 28,600 infections and 11,300 recorded deaths across Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Gueckedou, the prefecture in Guinea where the man died of the Marburg virus, is the same place where the 2021 Ebola outbreak in Guinea was first detected, WHO said.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Marburg virus was first identified in 1967 after scientists working at labs in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany and Belgrade, Serbia, fell ill. In total, 32 people were infected and seven deaths were reported at the time. The CDC said the virus was traced back to scientists who had been exposed to the tissues of imported African green monkeys during their research.
Fruit bats remain the "reservoir (hosts)" of the Marburg virus, but they do not show obvious signs of illness even when they are carrying the disease, per the CDC.
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