The World Health Organization said Friday it is working with Uganda to contain an outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD) that has appeared in the eastern parts of the country near the Kenya border.
WHO confirmed that at least one of two reported deaths is tied to MVD, a virus in the same family as Ebola and one of the world’s most dangerous pathogens known to affect humans. Two other people are receiving medical care as their suspected cases are investigated.
Heath officials reported the first fatality, a 50-year-old woman, on Tuesday as testing at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) confirmed the cause of death. The woman died at a health center the previous week; her brother died of similar symptoms in September. Health officials say he worked as a game hunter and lived near a cave known to be a home to Rousettus bats, which are an MVD host species.
Several hundred people may have been exposed in the Kween District – in a mountainous area 300 kilometers northeast of Kampala – through contact at health care clinics and burial services, the WHO said. The Uganda Ministry of Health is asking people in Kween or the neighboring Kapchorwa District to report any suspected cases on a toll-free number at 0800-100-066.
“We are working with health authorities to rapidly implement response measures,” said Ibrahima-Soce Fall, WHO Regional Emergency Director for the Africa region. “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’s Ministry of Health has sent a rapid response team to the area supported by WHO staff as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFNET).
Images: WHO Uganda