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Uganda confirms Ebola-like Marburg disease

By Godfrey Olukya
Posted on Monday, 6 October 2014 13:04

Ebola disease currently afflicting three West African countries.

We are monitoring them every day and if they develop symptoms

The East African nation has been gripped by fear following a statement issued by the ministry of health informing the general public of the confirmed case of Marburg.

This comes after laboratory tests carried out by Uganda Virus Research Institute confirmed that a health worker had died from the disease.

Uganda’s director of health services, Dr Ruth Aceng also confirmed that a brother of the deceased, who has developed symptoms of the disease, has been isolated at a Kampala hospital.

“We have lost a health worker due to Marburg,” she said. “Seventy-nine people suspected to have had contact with the deceased are under surveillance.

“We are monitoring them every day and if they develop symptoms, they will be transferred to an isolation ward.”

Aceng said that among the symptoms of the disease are headache, epistaxis, abdominal pains, vomiting blood, diarrhoea and high fever.

Uganda’s minister of state for health in charge of general duties, Elioda Tumwesigye said epidemiologists and surveillance officers have been sent to the affected area.

“We are working with partners like Médecins Sans Frontières and (we) call for all Ugandans’ cooperation,” Tumwesigye said.

Meanwhile, Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni has also issued a statement warning people against close bodily contact, while reassuring the population that the health ministry was tracing anyone, including relatives, who may have come into contact with the deceased.

Retracing his steps

The index case is a 30-year-old male radiographer, who originally was working in Mpigi Health Centre IV (HCIV), Mpigi Town Council, but had been recruited by Mengo Hospital two months ago as a radiographer.

He started feeling unwell on September 17 while at Mengo Hospital and on September 18 travelled to seek treatment at Mpigi HCIV, a facility he had worked with for a long time.

But barely a week later, on September 23, he was retransferred to Mengo Hospital when his condition worsened.

He presented with a headache, epistaxis, abdominal pain, vomiting blood and diarrhoea. His condition deteriorated on September 27 and a viral haemorrhagic fever was suspected.

Blood samples were removed for further analysis on September 28. He died that same day.

Preliminary reports also show that his brother has developed symptoms. He has been quarantined and isolated for further monitoring. Samples have been taken from him and are being tested at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

Marburg Viral Haemorraghic fever is a fatal illness caused by the Marburg virus, which belongs to the filoviridae family together with the Ebola virus.

The incubation period ranges from 2 to 21 days, while the case fatality rates vary from 24 to 88%. Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural hosts of Marburg virus.

The Marburg virus is transmitted to people from the fruit bats and spreads among humans through human-to-human transmission by direct contact with wounds and body fluids like blood, saliva, vomit, stool and urine of an infected person.

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