International Effort Under Way in Uganda to Contain Marburg Virus

GENEVA The World Health Organization is part of an international effort working to rapidly contain an outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus in eastern Uganda on the border with Kenya.

Marburg Hemorrhagic fever shares similarities with Ebola. The virus is very rare, extremely contagious, and has a high mortality rate. It is spread from person to person through bodily fluids. There is no specific treatment.

The Uganda Ministry of Health has responded rapidly since the first case of the disease was detected Oct. 17. Staffers from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the African Field Epidemiology Network were sent immediately to the remote area near the Kenyan border where the outbreak was detected.

WHO Regional Emergency Director for the Africa region, Ibrahima-Soce Fall, says the international health teams are working closely with Uganda to make sure the outbreak is contained locally.

The teams have already investigated the area and identified potential contacts of the deceased case and are monitoring these contacts," Fall said. "So, we are getting daily updates from the team. And we are confident that with this rapid support from partners, we will be able to contain it very quickly.

WHO has confirmed two deaths. One was a 50-year-old woman who died at a health center of fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea on Oct. 11. Her brother died of similar symptoms three weeks earlier, and was buried at a traditional funeral.

One suspected case and one probable case are being investigated.

WHO's Fall says surveillance teams are actively searching for people who may have been exposed to the deadly virus. He says WHO is providing medical supplies, as well as guidance on safe and dignified burials.

The agency has released $500,000 from its emergency fund, but says more money is needed to tackle the disease and prevent it from spreading.

Source: Voice of America

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