Kenya on high alert after a suspected Marburg case near Uganda border

Ugandan national with Marburg symptoms visited a well-known herbalist in Trans Nzoia.

An illustration of Marburg virus particles. PHOTO | FILE 

IN SUMMARY

  • Ugandan national with Marburg symptoms was seeking medical assistance from a Kenyan herbalist.
  • County officials have urged Kenyans to be calm government laboratory ascertains the disease.
  • A quarantine has been set up in the affected area with mobilisation in the community ongoing, medical officials say.

Kenya is on high alert following a suspected case of the Ebola-like Marburg virus in the western Trans Nzoia County, which borders Uganda.

This is after a Ugandan national with symptoms of the haemorrhagic fever visited a herbalist in a village in Kaisagat location, Kwanza Constituency, seeking medical assistance.

County health officials said samples from the Ugandan have been taken to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) for analysis with results expected on Wednesday morning.

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“This is not Ebola but we suspect Marburg virus which is highly experienced in Uganda although it has symptoms like Ebola,” said County Director of Preventive and Promotive Health Services, Gilbert Sowon.

He urged Kenyans to be calm as government laboratory ascertains the disease.

“Already quarantine has been set up in the affected area and mobilisation in the community is ongoing as," said Dr Emmanuel Wanjala, the medical superintendent at the county's top hospital in Kitale.

He added that they were screening all the people who came into contact with the Ugandan suspected to have the disease.

While Kenya has not reported any case of the Marburg virus, the World Health Organisation said it was a likely hotspot after a recent outbreak in eastern Uganda.

READ: WHO releases $500,000 to contain plague, Marburg

Uganda outbreak

Two people died from Marburg virus in eastern Uganda in the country’s first outbreak of the pathogen in three years.

One of the individuals was a male hunter who died in September while his 50-year-old sister died three weeks later.

The two are the first recorded cases of Marburg in Kween district located near the country's border with Kenya.

Marburg is one of the most deadly known pathogens and has a high mortality rate. Like Ebola, it is a haemorrhagic fever that causes severe bleeding, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

It has a 21-day incubation period, just like Ebola, and is transmitted via bodily fluids.

Kenya has already issued an alert for Marburg and plague following outbreaks in Uganda and Madagascar respectively.

-Reported by Gerald Bwisa.

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