An outbreak of a lethal virus ‘clinically similar’ to Ebola has broken out in Uganda, concerned health chiefs have announced. Marburg virus disease (MVD), which kills up to 88 percent of people it strikes, is considered to be one of the most deadly pathogens in existence.
This rare and highly fatal disease has already claimed 2 lives and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a total of 5 cases have been identified.
Emergency screening has begun at the Kenya-Uganda border in Turkana after two members of the same family died of the disease in Uganda. According to reports, two siblings have lost their lives to the disease, a brother and a sister in Kween district – close to the Kenyan border as confirmed by Dr Diana Atwine, Uganda’s health ministry permanent secretary.
Health workers have been asked to work with communities to stop the deadly Marburg outbreak from devastating communities in the rural region.
MVD (Marburg Virus Disease) falls within the same family as the Ebola virus – the hemorrhagic fever that devastated West Africa and killed around 11,000 in 2014 and 2015.
The virus can be spread through bites from either fruit bats or monkeys and can be passed from human-to-human through semen and blood.
The World Health Organisation also confirmed that MVD can be spread through contaminated clothing and bedspreads
Dr Atwine, said that the number of people infected is not ascertaining currently infected.
"Health experts are still investigating in addition to sensitising the population about the dangers of Marburg and we call for public vigilance," he added.
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In an attempt to spread awareness about this disease, WHO wrote on their website, “Initially, human infection with Marburg virus disease results from prolonged exposure to mines or caves inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies.Marburg spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.”
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As for prevention and control, the website suggests, “Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe and dignified burials, and social mobilization.
Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Raising awareness of risk factors for Marburg infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission.
Healthcare workers should always take standard precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, use of personal protective equipment (to block splashes or another contact with infected materials), safe injection practices and safe and dignified burial practices.”
Marburg and Ebola viruses are both members of the Filoviridae family. Though caused by different viruses, the two diseases are clinically similar. Both diseases are rare and have the capacity to cause dramatic outbreaks with high fatality rates, the WHO states.Initially, human MVD infection results from prolonged exposure to mines or caves inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies (fruit bats). People remain infectious as long as their blood contains the virus.
Information source: unilad