The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Ghana's first outbreak of the disease caused by the Marburg virus, which is related to Ebola, after laboratories confirmed the symptoms in two cases reported earlier this month.

The disease, a highly contagious hemorrhagic fever that is related to Ebola, is spread between people through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people and objects, as well as from fruit bats to humans.

The first instance involved a 26-year-old male who was admitted to the hospital on June 26 and died on June 27.

According to WHO, who also stated that both individuals sought care at the same hospital, the second incidence involved a male patient, 51, who arrived at the hospital on June 28 and passed away the same day.

Despite testing positive in an initial inquiry, samples from two unrelated dead patients from Ghana's southern Ashanti region were forwarded to the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, for further verification.

According to a statement issued by WHO on Sunday, the laboratory of the UN agency for health validated the results made by the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Ghana.

More than 90 contacts have been identified and are being monitored, including local residents and medical professionals.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, stated that "health authorities have moved rapidly, obtaining a head start on preparation for a prospective epidemic."

"This is fantastic because Marburg may quickly spiral out of control if rapid and urgent action isn't taken," said the WHO representative who was on the ground assisting the local health officials.

This epidemic marks the second time the disease has been found in West Africa, after Guinea confirmed a single case found in August. The formal announcement of the epidemic in Guinea came after more than five weeks. Previous Marburg outbreaks and lone cases have been documented in Angola, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda, according to the WHO.