Tanzania announces outbreak of deadly Marburg virus disease
Tanzania has announced its first outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus disease (MVD), after five fatalities and three further cases were reported at a hospital in the country’s north-west Kagera region.
Through contact tracing, approximately 161 people have been identified as at risk of infection, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The government has deployed an emergency response team to the area and neighbouring countries have stepped up surveillance. No cases have yet been reported outside Kagera.
“The efforts by Tanzania’s health authorities to establish the cause of the disease is a clear indication of the determination to effectively respond to the outbreak,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa. “We are working with the government to rapidly scale up control measures to halt the spread of the virus and end the outbreak as soon as possible.”
Patients displaying symptoms of the disease were first detected last week in two Kagera villages, according to a health memorandum on Tuesday by the Tanzanian health minister Ummy Mwalimu.
MVD was first discovered in 1967 in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany and Belgrade, Serbia. It is from the same “virus family” as Ebola and causes a severe hemorrhagic fever, while fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88%. There have been several outbreaks since its discovery, with the worst being Angola in 2004-2005, where there were 252 cases and 227 deaths.
The virus is initially transmitted to people from fruit bats, and then from person to person through body fluids or contaminated objects. Family members and health workers are particularly vulnerable to infection.
Symptoms of the disease can range from fever, nausea and rash at the onset, to jaundice and severe weight loss as the disease progresses. It has an incubation period of up to 21 days.
There are no vaccines or treatments for the virus, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alleviating symptoms by rehydration or managing the patient’s blood and oxygen levels, can increase the chances of survival.
Source: The Guardian