WHO says working to contain rare virus on Uganda-Kenya border

BUSIA, Kenya, Oct. 23 — The UN World Health Organization (WHO)
said Friday it is working to contain an outbreak of Marburg virus disease
(MVD) that has appeared in eastern Uganda on the border with Kenya.

The UN health agency confirmed that at least one person was confirmed to
have died of MVD and several hundred people may have been exposed to the
virus at health facilities and at traditional burial ceremonies in Kween
District, a mountainous area 300 km northeast of Kampala.”We are working
with health authorities to rapidly implement response measures,” WHO
Regional Emergency Director for the Africa region, Ibrahima-Soce Fall said
in a statement released on Friday.The first case was rare virus detected by
Uganda’s ministry of health on Oct. 17, a 50-year-old woman who died at a
health centre of fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea on Oct. 11.

The woman’s brother had also died of similar symptoms three weeks earlier
and was buried at a traditional funeral.He worked as a game hunter and
lived near a cave inhabited by Rousettus bats, which are natural hosts of
the Marburg virus.Laboratory testing at the Uganda Virus Research Institute
(UVRI) confirmed the cause of death as MVD.”Uganda has previously managed
Ebola and Marburg outbreaks but international support is urgently required
to scale up the response as the overall risk of national and regional
spread of this epidemic-prone disease is high,” Fall said.One suspected and
one probable case are being investigated and provided with medical care. An
active search for people who may have been exposed to or infected by the
virus is underway.A rapid response team has been sent to the area supported
by staff from the WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
and the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFNET).WHO is providing medical
supplies, guidance on safe and dignified burials, and has released 500,000
U.S. dollars from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies to finance immediate
response activities.Marburg virus disease is a rare disease with a high
mortality rate for which there is no specific treatment. – XINHUA