9 people have died of Marburg virus disease, a hemorrhagic fever nearly as deadly as Ebola, in eastern Equatorial Guinea, a small central African country that has quarantined a province to contain the "epidemic," the health minister announced Monday.
Last week, the government announced it was investigating suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever. Only three people with "mild symptoms" of the disease are currently isolated in a hospital in this sparsely populated rural area bordering Gabon and Cameroon, Mitoha Ondo'o Ayekaba said at a press conference.
The three people hospitalized "have mild symptoms (...) which are evolving favorably," he added.
Equatorial Guinea "declares today the health alert for a Marburg hemorrhagic fever in the province of Kie-Ntem and in the (neighboring) district of Mongomo," said the minister.
A "containment plan has been put in place" in close collaboration with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) "to deal with the epidemic" in this area covered by dense equatorial forest in the eastern part of the country's mainland, which also includes two main islands.
The Marburg virus is transmitted to humans by fruit bats and is spread in humans through direct contact with the body fluids of infected persons, or with surfaces and materials.