Concern amid outbreak of deadly Marburg virus disease

Concern amid outbreak of deadly Marburg virus disease
By Chris Harris
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One woman has been confirmed dead but hundreds may have been exposed to the virus, says WHO.


Health chiefs are working to contain an outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus disease on Uganda’s border with Kenya.

One woman has been confirmed dead but several hundred people may have been exposed to the virus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the exposure may have happened at health facilities or at funerals for victims of the disease.

The 50-year-old woman died at a health centre on October 11 after suffering from fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea.

While she is the only confirmed victim, it is understood her brother died of similar symptoms three weeks earlier.

WHO says Marburg is a rare disease with a high mortality rate and for which there is no specific treatment.

The disease can result in large outbreaks with high fatalities and is transmitted by direct contact with the blood and bodily fluids of infected people or wild animals, especially monkeys and fruit bats.

The agency is providing medical supplies and guidance on safe burials. It has also released $500,000 [423,000 euros] to finance ‘immediate response activities’.

“We are working with health authorities to rapidly implement response measures,” said Ibrahima-Soce Fall, WHO’s regional emergency director for Africa.

“Uganda has previously managed Ebola and Marburg outbreaks but international support is urgently required to scale up the response as the overall risk of national and regional spread of this epidemic-prone disease is high.”

Uganda has had at least four outbreaks in the last decade, which have killed six people, according to WHO data.

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