The Director of Health Security and Emergencies in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Mohamed Vandi has disclosed that Marburg virus has been discovered in five cave-dwelling fruit-eating bats in three districts of Moyamba, Koinadugu and Kono and not an outbreak in Sierra Leone.
He made the statement during a press briefing held at the Directorate of Health Security and Emergencies Conference Hall at Wilkinson Road in Freetown.
Dr. Mohamed Vandi reiterated that the infected bats were sampled near caves in Moyamba in Fakunya chiefdom, Koinadugu in Wara Wara Bafodia chiefdom, and Kono in Lei chiefdom.
He told journalists that the discovery was made and reported simultaneously to the Government of Sierra Leone by Njala University with funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the PREDICT project led by the University of Makeni and University of California, Davis with funding from USAID.
Dr. Vandi informed journalists that Marburg virus is in the same filovirus family as Ebola virus, stating that Marburg virus can be spread from infected bats to people and from person to person causing Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) and can even cause death. He added that the discovery is the first finding of Marburg virus in West Africa.
He reminded all that the type of bat that carries Marburg virus lives in many countries in Africa, including Sierra Leone. He said finding Marburg in Sierra Leone is not surprising, adding that it is likely that Marburg virus may also be found in other countries in West Africa where this bat lives. He added that the type of bat found to have Marburg virus in Sierra Leone is the same type of bat linked to outbreaks of Marburg Virus Disease in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya and South Africa.
The Director of Health Security and Emergencies disclosed that in Sierra Leone, Marburg was found only in bats, noting that there are no known cases of Marburg Virus Disease in people in Sierra Leone at this time. He said the finding of Marburg virus in Sierra Leone before it has made people sick shows the hard work Sierra Leone is doing to learn about sicknesses in animals before they spread to, and how best to live with animals safely.
He sated clearly that there is no outbreak of Marburg Virus Disease in Sierra Leone as this is a discovery of the Marburg virus in bats. Credit PRO Unit – MOHS