Marburg virus kills one in Uganda

Thursday October 19 2017

Kween Uganda

Uganda has confirmed an outbreak of the Marburg virus disease in the eastern district of Kween. MAP | GOOGLE 

By The EastAfrican
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Uganda has confirmed one dead from the Marburg virus disease in the eastern district of Kween.

This was after blood samples tested positive of the Ebola-like disease, the Health minister Dr Jane Aceng said Thursday.

The victim, a 50-year-old woman, died at the Kapchorwa Hospital on October 11 after “she presented with signs and symptoms suggestive of a viral haemorrhagic fever”, Dr Aceng said.

The woman had nursed her 42-year-old brother, who had died on September 25 with similar signs and symptoms, the minister added.

According to Dr Aceng, the man was a hunter who carried out his activities in an area that has caves with heavy presence of bats. 

She said the African fruit bat is the reservoir host of the Marburg virus although infected bats do not show obvious signs of the disease.

The Marburg virus disease is a haemorrhagic fever that is severe and highly fatal caused by a virus similar to the one that causes the deadly Ebola disease, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The symptoms and signs of the viral disease include headache, vomiting blood, joint and muscle pains and bleeding from multiple orifices.

Marburg is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected persons and fatality rates range from 25 per cent to 80 per cent. 

Earlier, Kween district health officer Mr Godfrey Chemos had said two people had died of the disease.

The Health ministry said it deployed its staff and medical supplies to the region to contain the spread of the disease.

Uganda last reported the Marburg outbreak in its central and western parts in 2014, which was quickly contained.

Outbreaks of the viral disease were also reported in DR Congo between 1998 and 2000, and in Angola in 2005.

The disease was first identified in 1967 during epidemics in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany and Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia from importation of infected monkeys from Uganda, says WHO.

*Story updated to add government statement.