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Monday, April 19th, 2021

WHO working to contain outbreak of Marburg virus disease in east Uganda

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The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced it is working to contain an outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD) that has appeared near the Kenyan border in east Uganda.

First detected on Oct. 17 by Uganda’s Ministry of Health, WHO estimated that several hundred individuals may have been exposed to the virus at various health facilities as well as traditional burial ceremonies in the country’s Kween District.

As part of its immediate response measures, WHO provided a total of $500,000 as well as medical supplies and information on safe burials in order to mitigate the virus’ spread.

“We are working with health authorities to rapidly implement response measures,” WHO Regional Emergency Director Ibrahima-Soce Fall said. “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.”

The first case was identified as a 50-year old woman who passed away from fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea on Oct. 11. MVD infection was later confirmed by Uganda’s Virus Research Institute.

The woman’s brother also died as a result of similar symptoms three weeks prior and was subsequently buried at a traditional funeral. WHO noted that the man worked as a game hunter and lived near a cave inhabited by Rousettus bats, which are known carriers of MVD.

An additional suspected case and one probable case are currently being investigated and provided with emergency medical care.

MVD is a viral hemorrhagic fever with symptoms that are similar to Ebola virus disease. According to WHO data, the average fatality rate for MVD infection ranges from 23 to 90 percent, depending on the particular virus strain and case management.