The African Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned this Wednesday (22) of the risk that the outbreak of the virus from marburg confirmed in Tanzania spread to Uganda, Rwanda e Burundi.
From the same family as ebola, the virus is one of the most dangerous in the world. The mortality rate of those infected is, on average, 50%, but it can reach 88% depending on the variant of the virus and the health care provided to the patient.
On Tuesday (21), the Tanzanian Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of the disease in the northwest of the country. Eight cases of the disease were confirmed, with five deaths – a fatality rate of 63%. Among the dead is a health professional.
It is the first time that the country has confirmed cases of the disease. Those infected are from the cities of Bulinda and Butayaibega, both located in the northwest district of Bukoba, on the border with Uganda and close to the borders of Rwanda and Burundi, generating alert from the authorities. The high mobility of the population in the area poses a risk of cross-border spread of the disease.
“CDC Africa remains committed to supporting Tanzania and its neighbors to stop this outbreak as soon as possible. We urge people to continue to share information in a timely manner with authorities to enable a more effective response. These emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases are a key sign that the continent’s health security needs to be strengthened to deal with disease threats,” said Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, interim director of CDC Africa.
Tanzania’s Ministry of Health said it has already deployed rapid response teams to support further investigations. In all, 161 contacts of infected people were identified and are being monitored.
Tumaini Nagu, a Tanzanian government medical expert, urged citizens to avoid touching potential patients and their fluids, as well as to report any suspected cases to health authorities.
In addition to Tanzania, the Equatorial Guinea it is also facing an outbreak of the marburg virus, with at least nine deaths.
The Marburg virus
Marburg virus causes hemorrhagic fever and is transmitted by bats to primates and humans. Among humans, contagion occurs through the body fluids of infected people or through surfaces and materials, such as bedding.
The virus is named after a small German town on the banks of the Lahn River, where the virus was first documented in 1967. At the time, it caused simultaneous outbreaks of the disease in laboratories in Marburg, Germany, and Belgrade, Germany. then Yugoslavia (now Serbia). Seven people died from exposure to the virus while conducting research on monkeys.
Since then there have been outbreaks and sporadic cases in countries such as Angola, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda.
In a 2004 outbreak in Angola, 90% of the 252 infected people died. In 2022, two marburg virus deaths were reported in Ghana.
To date, there are no vaccines or authorized drugs for the disease, but rehydration treatment to relieve symptoms can increase the chances of survival.
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