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Two Marburg cases confirmed, one suspected and one probable case reported

By Lillian Namusoke Magezi

Added 3rd November 2017 08:01 PM

Symptoms include sudden onset of high-grade fever, headache, vomiting blood and joint and muscle pains.

Marburg 703x422

Symptoms include sudden onset of high-grade fever, headache, vomiting blood and joint and muscle pains.


The ministry of health has confirmed two cases of Marburg both of whom have already died. In addition, another death has been registered as a probable case of Marburg.

According to a press release from the ministry, the three cases were of residents of Moyok and Kaproron sub-counties in Kween District.

One the other hand, one suspected case was found in Kaptum sub-county in Kapchorwa district.

According to Vivian Serwanjja, the public relations officer at the ministry, the suspect, an 85-year-old man from Kaptum village, was admitted to an isolation facility in Kapchorwa Hospital with fever, vomiting blood and bleeding from the nose.

Serwanjja disclosed that the patient is currently undergoing supportive treatment.

A blood sample was taken off for Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) testing and sent to the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) in Entebbe.

What is Marburg?
In a press statement released on October 19, the mister of health, Jane Ruth Aceng, noted that there had been a confirmed case of Marburg in the country. This followed laboratory tests conducted by the Uganda Virus Research Institute which confirmed that one person had died of Marburg virus disease.

How the disease spreads?
Aceng explained that the diseases is a type of viral hemorrhagic fevers, which is  caused by the Marburg virus, a rare but severe type of viral hemorrhagic fever, which affects both humans and non-human primates like monkeys and baboons. The reservoir host of Marburg virus is the African fruit bat. Fruit bats infected with Marburg virus do not show obvious signs of illness. Primates (including humans) are vulnerable to contracting the Marburg virus, which is known to have a very high mortality.

In Marburg outbreaks, the first person normally gets infected through contact with infected bats or animals (normally monkeys/baboons). Once the first person gets infected with the Marburg Virus, human to human transmission of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) then occurs through contact with the body fluids (blood, vomitus, Urine, faeces) of already infected persons. Close contacts to already infected persons (like close family members of already infected persons) and health workers are particularly at increased risk of getting infected with the Marburg virus.

The confirmed case was a 50-year-old female from Chemuron village, Moyok Parish, Moyok sub county, Kween District in Eastern Uganda. It was reported that the patient had nursed her 42-year-old brother, who had died earlier with similar signs and symptoms. She had also participated in the cultural preparation of the body for burial. The brother was reported to be a hunter who carried out his activities where there are caves with heavy presence of bats.

Signs and symptoms
She had presented with signs and symptoms suggestive of a Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF). These include:
- Sudden onset of high-grade fever
- Headache
- Vomiting blood
- Joint and muscle pains
- Unexplained bleeding through the body openings including the eyes, nose, gums, ears, anus and the skin.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine available for Marburg, but patients are given supportive treatment which supports the natural recovery process of the body and this improves tremendously the patient’s survival chances. However, treatment outcomes are better for those who seek care early.

Ministry appeals to public
Serwanjja added that health state minister for general duties Sarah Opendi is on ground in Kapchorwa with a team of senior officials from the ministry and development partners to assess the district response to the disease.

Serwanjja assured Ugandans that: “Our multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder teams of experts will remain on ground in Kapchorwa and Kween districts until the outbreak is fully contained.”

She encouraged citizens to be vigilant and report any suspected cases via the Ministry of Health hotline on 0800-100- 066.

The Ministry of Health also appeals to the general public to remain alert and observe the following precautions to control the spread of the Marburg virus:
- Report any suspected patients immediately to a nearby health facility.
- Avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person presenting with bleeding tendencies or symptoms suggestive of Marburg virus disease.
- Health workers are further reminded to wear gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment when taking care of ill patients or suspected cases.
- Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.
- Avoid contact with persons who have died from the disease.
- Allow health workers to perform dignified burials among victims who might have succumbed to the disease, so as to minimise its spread to others.

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