Ghana has officially confirmed two cases of the Marburg virus, a highly contagious disease similar to Ebola, its health service said on Sunday, after two people who later died tested positive for the virus earlier this month. 

Tests carried out in Ghana were positive on July 10, but the results will need to be confirmed by a laboratory in Senegal before the cases are considered confirmed, according to the World Health Organization. "Further tests at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal confirm the results," the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said in a statement. 

GHS is working to reduce any risk of the virus spreading, including isolating all known contacts, so far no one has had any symptoms. This is the second explosion in Marburg, West Africa. The first case of the virus in the region was discovered last year in Guinea, other cases are unknown. "The (Ghanaian) health authorities have reacted quickly and gained an advantage in preparing for a possible epidemic. 

This is good because unless there is immediate and decisive action, Marburg will soon get out of hand," said Matshidiso Moeti. Director for Africa. The two patients, in Ghana's southern Ashanti region, had symptoms including diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting before they died in hospital, the WHO said. Since 1967, Marburg has seen dozens of large eruptions, mostly in southern and eastern Africa. According to the WHO, the fatality rate in previous outbreaks varies from 24% to 88%, depending on the strain of the virus and case management. 

It is transmitted to humans from bats and is spread to humans through direct contact with infected people's bodily fluids, surfaces and materials, according to the WHO.