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A Killer Disease: Marburg

This article talks about how Tanzania detected the first-ever Marburg virus outbreak which is proven to be deadly.

According to the World Health Organization, Tanzania has confirmed eight cases of Marburg, a high-death viral hemorrhagic fever with symptoms similar to Ebola in its first-ever outbreak.


Marburg is from the same virus family as Ebola and is transmitted to humans by fruit bats. It then spreads through contact with infected people's bodily fluids.


According to the WHO, the symptoms include high fever, severe headache, and malaise, fatigue, blood-stained vomit and diarrhea. It can be confirmed that the symptoms usually appear within seven days of infection and there are no approved vaccines or antiviral treatments to treat it.


In a statement released, the WHO stated that the confirmation by Tanzania's national public laboratory came after the deaths of five people in the northwest Kagera region.

Among the dead was a health worker, three survivors that were receiving treatment and 161 contacts that were being monitored.

"Tanzania's efforts to determine the cause of the disease are a clear indication of their determination to effectively respond to the outbreak," said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

As Marburg has a death rate of up to 88%, Moeti also stated that the WHO is collaborating with the government to rapidly ramp up control measures to halt the virus's spread.


Tanzania's outbreak comes just one month after Equatorial Guinea confirmed its first-ever Marburg virus disease outbreak. The WHO increased surveillance in the Central African country, sending experts in epidemiology, case management, infection prevention, laboratory testing, and risk communication to boost the country's response.


Moving forward, On March 22, World Health Organization (WHO) reported eight new confirmed cases of Marburg disease in Equatorial Guinea.

This brings the total of laboratory-confirmed cases to nine and probable cases to 20 since the outbreak of the disease was declared in February. Twenty deaths have been reported, with two healthcare workers among the dead.


Two of the eight new cases were reported in the Kie-Ntem province of Central African Republic, four in the Litoral province, and two in the Centre-Sur province.


"People in communities and families must be aware of the virus's presence in their midst, as well as the precautions they must take to avoid infection."

"We need to make sure that healthcare workers are aware of all precautions as they carry out clinical care for patients and disease investigation," said Moeti.

Moeti also urged communities to conduct safe burials without involving entire communities by saying, “we need to persuade people that this method of saying goodbye to loved ones will not be the norm because of the risks involved."


Despite restricting movement along the border to avoid contagion, neighboring Cameroon detected two suspected cases of Marburg disease last month.

The Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with Equatorial Guinea teams, updated its response plan and defined the axes of emergency intervention to prevent the disease from spreading futher in Cameroon.

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