Marburg re-emerges in Uganda

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Excerpts from a press release issued by Uganda’s Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that there is a confirmed case of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) in the country. This followed laboratory tests conducted by the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) which confirmed that one person had died of Marburg Virus Disease, a type of Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (VHF) on 17th October 2017.
As at 19th October, 2017, only one case had been confirmed. The confirmed case was a 50-year-old female from Chemuron village, Moyok Parish, Moyok sub county, Kween District in Eastern Uganda. She presented with signs and symptoms suggestive of a Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) and unfortunately passed on during the night of October 11, 2017 at Kapchorwa Hospital, having been referred from Kaproron Health Center IV in Kween district.
Preliminary field investigations indicated that prior to her death; the deceased had nursed her 42-year-old brother, who had died on September 25, 2017 with similar signs and symptoms. She had also closely participated in the cultural preparation of the body for burial. The deceased’s brother was reported to be a hunter who carried out his activities where there are caves with heavy presence of bats. However, no samples were taken off his body prior to his death.
Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) is caused by the Marburg virus, a rare but severe type of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever which affects both humans and non-human primates like monkeys, baboons. The reservoir host of Marburg virus is the African fruit bat. Fruit bats infected with Marburg virus do not show obvious signs of illness. Primates (including humans) are vulnerable to contracting the Marburg virus, which is known to have a very high mortality.
In Marburg outbreaks, the first person normally gets infected through contact with infected bats or animals (normally monkeys/baboons). Once the first person (Index case) gets infected with the Marburg Virus, human to human transmission of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) then occurs through contact with the body fluids (blood, vomitus, Urine, feaces, etc) of already infected persons. Close contacts to already infected persons (like close family members of already infected persons) and health workers are particularly at increased risk of getting infected with the Marburg virus.

The ministry announcement then went on to detail symptoms and actions health staff should be alert to uphold.

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