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Biological Hazard – Hemorrhagic Fever, Marburg virus (MARV) Outbreak: Uganda, Kenya (Update)


Published Date: 2017-11-08 09:50:26
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Marburg virus disease – Uganda (QW,QP), Kenya (TN) WHO
Archive Number: 20171108.5430664

Date: Tue 7 Nov 2017
Source: WHO Emergencies preparedness, response, Disease Outbreak News (DONs) [edited]

Marburg virus disease – Uganda and Kenya
On 17 Oct 2017, the Ugandan Ministry of Health (MoH) notified WHO of a confirmed outbreak of Marburg virus disease in Kween district, Eastern Uganda. The Ministry for Health officially declared the outbreak on 19 Oct 2017.

As of [3 Nov 2017], the 3 cases that have been previously reported (2 confirmed and one probable case, the latter being the index case) have died, thus, resulting in an overall case-fatality rate of 100 percent. The cases were epidemiologically linked and come from one family.

The 2nd confirmed case travelled to Kenya, prior to his death. Contact tracing and active case search is ongoing in Kween in Kapchorwa district in Uganda, as well as in Kitale district and West Pokot in Kenya. On 4 Nov [2017] a high risk contact of the 2nd confirmed case, a health care worker in Kween developed symptoms and was admitted to the treatment facility in Kween. Additionally, one close contact of the 2nd confirmed case has been reported to have travelled to Kampala [Uganda]. The Kampala City Authority has sent a team to the village she is reported to be visiting to trace this contact and continue 21 days follow-up.

Public health response
– The Ugandan Ministry of Health continues to proactively respond to the outbreak with support from WHO and partners.
– Contact tracing is ongoing, as well as active case search in health facilities and at community level. Reported deaths are also investigated for Marburg before burial and suspicious deaths accorded safe and dignified burials.
– An isolation and treatment unit was set-up in Kapchorwa with logistical support from WHO, UNICEF, and MSF. A complete triage protocol has been implemented.
– Social mobilization and risk communication are ongoing. With the support from Red Cross volunteers, UNICEF and WHO communication experts, over 4000 community members have received information on MVD.
– Psychosocial support specialists have been deployed to Kween and counselling sessions are being conducted for family members of the deceased Marburg cases, health workers, and other community members.
– Guided tours of the Marburg treatment units in Kapchorwa and Kween were organized in order to dispel fear of the treatment center and rumours of wrong practices by healthcare workers that cause death of admitted patients.
– A cross-border meeting between Uganda and Kenya health authorities is scheduled for 7 Nov 2017 in Kapchorwa, and cross-border surveillance activities are ongoing.
– Kenya Marburg virus disease outbreak contingency plan and the public health EOC [Emergency Operations Centre] have been activated and preparedness measures have started.
– 2000 Personal protective equipment sets have been dispatched by WHO and shipped to Trans Nzoia county, Kenya.
– Blood specimens were collected and have been dispatched to Nairobi’s KEMRI [Kenya Medical Research Institute] Laboratory
– A temporary treatment center (Kaisangat Health Center) has been identified and the Kenya Red Cross Society is recruiting and re-orienting nurses to manage the MVD treatment centre.
– UNICEF is assisting with communication activities, and community engagement.
– MSF-France has deployed to support setting up of treatment centres in Uganda (Kapchorwa and Kaproron) and Kenya (Kaisangat).

WHO risk assessment
– Marburg virus disease is an emerging and highly virulent epidemic-prone disease associated with high case fatality rates (case fatality rate: 23-90 percent). Marburg virus disease outbreaks are rare. The virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected persons or wild animals (such as monkeys and fruit bats).

Candidate experimental treatments and vaccine are being reviewed for potential clinical trials.

Uganda has previous experience in managing recurring Ebola and Marburg virus (MVD) disease outbreaks. MVD cases have historically been reported among miners and travellers who visited caves inhabited by bat colonies in Uganda. Marburg virus disease outbreaks have been documented during:
– 2007: 4 cases, including 2 deaths in Ibanda district, Western Uganda;
– 2008: 2 unrelated cases in travellers returning to the Netherlands and USA, respectively after visiting caves in Western Uganda;
– 2012: 15 cases, including 4 deaths in Ibanda and Kabale districts, Western Uganda; and
– 2014: 1 case in healthcare professional from Mpigi district, Central Uganda.

Currently, 3 cases have been identified; 2 confirmed and one probable case. The 2nd confirmed case travelled to Kenya prior to his death, but so far no human-to-human transmission has been confirmed outside of Uganda. Ugandan health authorities have responded rapidly to this event, and measures are being rapidly implemented to control the outbreak. Kenyan health authorities have activated the contingency plan and the public health EOC and have started preparedness measures. The high number of potential contacts in extended families, at healthcare facilities and surrounding traditional burial ceremonies is a challenge for the response.

The affected districts are in a rural, mountainous area located on the border with Kenya, about 300 km [about 186 mi] northeast of Kampala on the northern slopes of Mount Elgon National Park. The Mount Elgon caves are a major tourist attraction, and are host to large colonies of cave-dwelling fruit bats, known to transmit the Marburg virus. The close proximity of the affected area to the Kenyan border, and cross-border movement between the affected district and Kenya and the potential transmission of the virus between colonies and to humans, increases the risk of cross-border spread.

These factors suggest a high risk at national and regional level, requiring an immediate, coordinated response with support from international partners. Tourism to Mount Elgon including the caves and surrounding areas should be noted and appropriate advice given and precautions taken. The risk associated with the event at the global level is low.

WHO advice
Human-to-human transmission of Marburg virus is primarily associated with direct contact with blood and body fluids of infected symptomatic persons, and Marburg virus transmission associated with provision of health care has been reported when appropriate infection control measures have not been observed.

Health-care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Marburg virus should apply infection control precautions to avoid any exposure to blood and body fluids, and unprotected contact with possibly contaminated environment.

Surveillance activities, including contact tracing and active case search must be strengthened within all affected health zones.

Raising awareness of the risk factors for Marburg infection and the protective measures individuals can take to reduce human exposure to the virus, are the key measures to reduce human infections and deaths. Key public health communication messages include:
– reducing the risk of bat-to-human transmission arising from prolonged exposure to mines or caves inhabited by fruit bats colonies. During work or research activities or tourist visits in mines or caves inhabited by fruit bat colonies, people should wear gloves and other appropriate protective clothing (including masks);
– reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission in the community arising from direct or close contact with infected patients, particularly with their body fluids. Close physical contact with Marburg patients should be avoided. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing should be performed after visiting sick relatives in hospital, as well as after taking care of ill patients at home;
– communities affected by Marburg should make efforts to ensure that the population is well informed, both about the nature of the disease itself to avoid community stigmatization, and encourage early presentation to treatment centres and other necessary outbreak containment measures, including burial of the dead. People who have died from Marburg should be promptly and safely buried.

WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on Uganda or the affected area based on the current information available on this event. Travelers to the Mount Elgon bat caves are advised to avoid exposure to fruit bats and contact with non-human primates, and, to the extent possible, to wear gloves and protecting clothing, including masks.

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall

[This report provides a summary of the recent cases of MVD in Uganda and possible exposure in Kenya, when one of the cases traveled across the border to seek treatment from a local herbalist. There has been proactive surveillance of possible contacts on both sides of the border by the health authorities with the assistance of the WHO and other organizations. One hopes that the measures taken as mentioned above are sufficient to prevent spread of the disease.

Maps of Uganda can be seen at and
Maps of Kenya can be seen at and; a map sowing the location of Trans-Nzoia county in Kenya can be accessed at – Mod.TY]

See Also

Marburg virus disease – Kenya (02): (TN) NOT 20171102.5420814
Marburg virus disease – Kenya (TN) ex Uganda: (QW, QP) susp. 20171101.541919
Marburg virus disease – Uganda (06): (QW, QP) 20171029.5411148
Marburg virus disease – Uganda (05): (QW) 20171026.5406833
Marburg virus disease – Uganda (04): (QW) 20171025.5403740
Marburg virus disease – Uganda (03): (QW) 20171024.5401319
Marburg virus disease – Uganda (02): (QW) 20171020.5393573
Marburg virus disease – Uganda: (QW) 20171019.5391580

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases


08 November 2017
Source: Outbreak News Today
Marburg outbreak: Three cases, three deaths in Uganda, ‘appears to be under control’

In an update on the Marburg virus disease (MVD) outbreak in Uganda, the World Health Organization reports that the outbreak remains at three cases (two confirmed and one probable), all of whom have died, resulting in an overall case fatality rate of 100% and appears to be under control.

All three cases were epidemiologically linked and come from one family.

Previous suspected cases reported earlier have been discarded as non-cases following investigation. By 1 November 2017, 135 contacts were under follow-up (115 in Kween and 22 in Kapchorwa). Seventy nine contacts have completed the 21-days follow-up period.

In Kenya, three high-risk contacts are being monitored. These contacts were potentially exposed to the second confirmed case, who reportedly visited his family (wife and daughter) and a traditional healer in Kenya before being admitted to a treatment centre in Kween, Uganda, where he died on 25 October 2017.

Outbreak control interventions are ongoing in both countries, including contact tracing activities. The hostility previously exhibited by some communities in Uganda has ceased, following engagement of and dialogue with the local community by the national authorities and political leaders.

While Uganda has extensive experience in dealing with recurring MVD outbreaks, Kenya has not experienced an outbreak since the 1980s. Assessments carried out at operational level identified some gaps that require urgent attention. The need to reorient healthcare workers on viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) case management, infection prevention and control and surveillance was highlighted. The ongoing industrial action by nurses may also impact on the preparedness and response measures, as well as coordination of several departments and stakeholders locally.


More Information

Marburgvirus – Molecular Biology
“Proposal for a revised taxonomy of the family Filoviridae: Classification, names of taxa and viruses, and virus abbreviations”

General Information is available from Wikipedia – Marburg virus

Category A Bioterrorism Agents

These high-priority pathogens pose a risk to a nation’s security, they can be easily transmitted and disseminated, result in high mortality rates, having potential major public health impact, and capable of causing public panic, or require special action for public health safety and preparedness.

Viral hemorrhagic fevers

This includes hemorrhagic fevers caused by members of the family Filoviridae (Marburg virus and Ebola virus), and by the family Arenaviridae (for example Lassa virus and Machupo virus). Ebola virus disease has fatality rates ranging from 50–90%. No cure currently exists, although vaccines are in development. The Soviet Union investigated the use of filoviruses for biological warfare, and the Aum Shinrikyo group unsuccessfully attempted to obtain cultures of Ebola virus. Death from Ebola virus disease is commonly due to multiple organ failure and hypovolemic shock. Marburg virus was first discovered in Marburg, Germany. No treatments currently exist aside from supportive care. The arenaviruses have a somewhat reduced case-fatality rate compared to disease caused by filoviruses, but are more widely distributed, chiefly in central Africa and South America.

Source: Wikipedia – Bioterrorism (edited)

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