The Minister of Health Dr. Jane Rith Aceng has this afternoon informed the general public that there is a confirmed case of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) in the country.
The minister made the revelation this afternoon during a press briefing at Uganda Media Centre. This followed laboratory tests conducted by the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) which confirmed that one person had died of Marburg Virus Disease, a type of Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (VHF) on 17th October 2017.
As at today 19th October, 2017, only one case had been confirmed. The confirmed case was a 50-year-old female from Chemuron village, Moyok Parish, Moyok sub county, Kween District in Eastern Uganda.
According to Dr. Aceng, the victim presented with signs and symptoms suggestive of a Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) and unfortunately passed on during the night of October 11, 2017 at Kapchorwa Hospital, having been referred from Kaproron Health Center IV in Kween district.
Preliminary field investigations indicated that prior to her death; the deceased had nursed her 42-year-old brother, who had died on September 25, 2017 with similar signs and symptoms. She had also closely participated in the cultural preparation of the body for burial. The deceased’s brother was reported to be a hunter who carried out his activities where there are caves with heavy presence of bats. However, no samples were taken off his body prior to his death.
Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) is caused by the Marburg virus, a rare but severe type of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever which affects both humans and non-human primates like monkeys, baboons. The reservoir host of Marburg virus is the African fruit bat. Fruit bats infected with Marburg virus do not show obvious signs of illness. Primates (including humans) are vulnerable to contracting the Marburg virus, which is known to have a very high mortality. In Marburg outbreaks, the first person normally gets infected through contact with infected bats or animals (normally monkeys/baboons). Once the first person (Index case) gets infected with the Marburg Virus, human to human transmission of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) then occurs through contact with the body fluids (blood, vomitus, Urine, feces, etc) of already infected persons.
Close contacts to already infected persons (like close family members of already infected persons) and health workers are particularly at increased risk of getting infected with the Marburg virus.
A person suffering from Marburg presents with sudden onset of high-grade fever accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
2. Vomiting blood,
3. Joint and muscle pains,
4. Unexplained bleeding through the body openings including the eyes, nose, gums, ears, anus and the skin.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine available for Marburg for now, but patients are given supportive treatment which supports the natural recovery process of the body and this improves tremendously the patient’s survival chances. However, treatment outcomes are better for those who seek care early.
To mitigate the current threat of Marburg Virus Disease, the Ministry of Health is undertaking the following measures to control the spread of the disease:
• Ministry of Health has deployed a Rapid Response Team comprising of highly experienced Epidemiologists, Risk Communication experts, Case Management, Infection Control and Prevention experts, ecological environmental experts, Laboratory specialists, among others to Kween and Kapchorwa districts. The team will support District Rapid Response Teams to investigate and assess the magnitude of the threat and to institute appropriate control measures to avert the Marburg Virus Disease threat.
• An isolation ward at the Kapchorwa District Hospital and Kaproron Health Center IV in Kween District have been established to handle cases.
• Preparations are underway to train all health workers, particularly from Kapchorwa Hospital, and Kaproron Health Centre IV on VHF Infection Prevention and Control. Infection Prevention and Control measures have been heightened in all health facilities in Kapchorwa and Kween districts.
• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s) and other supplies have been mobilized to support response in the affected facilities.
• The National Medical Stores is delivering emergency supplies to the affected health facilities.
• Increased sensitization in affected communities and among health-care providers on the clinical symptoms of patients with Marburg Virus Disease.
Marburg Virus Disease has the potential to spread over wide areas affecting many people especially health workers and family members nursing Marburg Viral Disease patients. The Ministry of Health therefore appeals to the general public to remain alert and observe the following precautions to control the spread of the Marburg virus: • Report any suspected patient immediately to a nearby health facility.
• Avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person presenting with bleeding tendencies or symptoms suggestive of Marburg virus disease. • Health workers are further reminded to wear gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment when taking care of ill patients or suspected cases.
• Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.
• Avoid contact with persons who have died from the disease.
• Allow health workers perform dignified burials among victims who might have succumbed to the disease, so as to minimise its spread to others.
The Ministry of Health calls upon the general public to remain calm but be on alert amidst this epidemic. You can report all suspected cases via the Ministry of Health hotline on 0800100066.