Marburg Virus Disease Kills Five People In Tanzania

By Samuel Ouma

Dr Matshidiso Moeti

Five people were confirmed dead on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Tanzania’s northwest Kagera region following the outbreak of Marburg virus disease.

The five were among eight people who had developed a strange illness compelling the country’s National Public Health Laboratory to analyse samples to determine the cause of the disease. The patients had developed symptoms like fever, vomiting, bleeding and renal failure.

“Five of the eight cases, including a health worker, have died and the remaining three are receiving treatment. A total of 161 contacts have been identified and being monitored,” said WHO Africa.

According to Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, efforts by Tanzania’s health authorities to establish the cause of the disease clearly indicate the determination to respond effectively to the outbreak.

Dr. Moeti said WHO is working closely with the government of Tanzania to rapidly scale up control measures to halt the spread of the virus and end the outbreak as soon as possible.

He added that the WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health in deploying an emergency team to Kagera for further epidemiological investigations. The emergency team will focus on active case finding in the community and local healthcare facilities to identify more contacts and provide them with appropriate care.

“The lessons learnt, and progress made during other recent outbreaks should stand the country in good stead as it confronts this latest challenge,” said Dr Moeti. “We will continue to work closely with the national health authorities to save lives.”

WHO says the Marburg virus is highly virulent and causes haemorrhagic fever, with a fatality ratio of up to 88%. It is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola virus disease.

The virus is transmitted to people from fruit bats and spreads among humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces and materials.

There are no approved vaccinations or antiviral medicines to treat the virus. However, supportive care, such as rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids and treatment of specific symptoms, does enhance survival.


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