The Ministry of Health has declared an outbreak of a Marburg virus epidemic in the districts of Kween and Kapchorwa in Eastern Uganda. One case of the Marburg virus, a Viral Hemorrhagic Fever has so far been confirmed and the victim died earlier this week, the Minister of Health Dr. Ruth Aceng said on Thursday.
This follows multiple laboratory tests conducted by the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI).
Fifty-year-old female from Chemuron village, Moyok Parish, Moyok sub county, Kween District in Eastern Uganda died at Kapchorwa hospital after she presented signs and symptoms suggestive of a Viral Haemorrhagic Fever (VHF).
Minister Aceng told journalists that preliminary field investigations indicated that prior to the death, the carrier had been in contact with her 42-year-old brother, who had died on September 25 from similar symptoms.
“She had also closely 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,” the Minister said.
However, no samples were taken off his body prior to his death.
In a bid to contain further spread of the virus, Dr. Aceng said the Ministry has dispatched a Rapid Response Team comprising of; epidemiologists, risk communication experts, case management, infection control and prevention experts, ecological environmental experts and laboratory specialists to Kween and Kapchorwa districts.
“The team will support District Rapid Response Teams to investigate and assess the magnitude of the threat and to institute appropriate control measures to avert the Marburg Virus Disease threat,” the Minister revealed.
Isolation wards at the Kapchorwa District Hospital and Kaproron Health Center IV in Kween District have been established to handle suspected cases.
The Ministry will also train all health workers at the two health facilities n VHF Infection Prevention and Control. Government has mobilized Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s) and other supplies to support response in the affected facilities.
The public has been urged to report any suspected patient immediately to a nearby health facility. Individuals are to avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person presenting with bleeding tendencies or symptoms suggestive of Marburg virus disease.
Health workers have also been reminded to wear gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment when taking care of ill patients or suspected cases.
Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) 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, baboons. The reservoir host of Marburg virus is the African fruit bat.
A person suffering from Marburg presents with sudden onset of high-grade fever accompanied by 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 for now, but patients are given supportive treatment which supports the natural recovery process of the body and this improves tremendously the patient’s survival chances.
According to Dr. Miriam Nanyujja the Disease Preventative and Control Officer with World Health Organization (WHO), it is impossible to rule out a Marburg free Uganda since the country is still inhabited by fruit bats and primates like monkeys and baboons.