Date: Thu 25 Oct 2012
Source: Office of the President, Uganda Media Centre [edited]
The Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of Marburg [virus
disease] in Kabale district on 19 Oct 2012 after receiving laboratory
results from the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) confirming that 2
family members had died of the highly infectious viral hemorrhagic
fever; 3 other members of the same family had earlier died of a strange
disease in a period of one month.
The deaths of these people prompted the District Health Office to
undertake further investigations of this strange disease that had
ravaged Kitumba parish in Kitumba sub-county, Kabale district. According
to the reports, the patients presented with symptoms of diarrhoea,
vomiting, fever, headache, dizziness, and generalized convulsions.
Initial samples of blood and cerebral spiral fluid taken from the sick
people ruled out malaria and meningitis. The family then invited a cult
leader, a retired Reverend from Rukungiri district, to visit their
household and pray for the sick. The index case is believed to have been
a member of a family in Rwabirondo village, Kitumba parish in Kitumba
sub-county, which occurred on 20 Sep 2012. After the death of the index
case, 2 other people, a sister and mother reportedly got sick and died.
This outbreak comes barely 2 weeks after the Ministry declared an end to
another viral haemorrhagic fever (Ebola virus disease) on 4 Oct 2012.
The last Marburg outbreak [occurred] in October 2007 in Kamwenge
Marburg is a highly infectious viral haemorrhagic fever, which kills
in a short time but can be prevented [avoided?]. Marburg virus infection
is spread through direct contact with body fluids like blood, saliva,
vomit, stool, and urine of an infected person. A person suffering from
Marburg virus disease presents with sudden onset of high fever with any
of the following; headache, vomiting blood, joint and muscle pains, and
bleeding through the body openings, that is, eyes (red eyes), nose,
gums, ears, anus, and the skin. Virus can be spread also through use of
unsterilised injection syringes, contaminated linen, beddings, and
clothes; by the use of skin piercing instruments that have been used by
an infected person. And also by direct physical handling of persons who
have died of Marburg virus disease.
- Of the 6 people who have died so far, only 3 [have been] confirmed positive for Marburg virus infection.
- Currently, there is only one confirmed case admitted in our
isolation facility at Mulago National Referral Hospital. The patient
admitted [there] is from Kitumba sub-county and is a relative of the
- One convalescent case is detained at Rushoroza Health Center III,
while 5 suspect cases linked to the initial cases have ben admitted
there awaiting the results of diagnostic tests. Special teams of doctors
and nurses have been assigned to attend to the patients in both
- The Ministry of Health surveillance team has listed a total of 196
contacts for close monitoring. These contacts are mainly in Kabale,
Rukungiri, and Ibanda districts while 29 are from Kampala. Those being
monitored reportedly got into contact with either the dead or confirmed
cases. The team continues to monitor them on a daily basis for possible
signs and symptoms of this highly infectious disease until they have
completed 10 days without showing any signs and symptoms.
- A team of experts from the Ministry of Health, the US Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organisation have so
far collected a total of 18 samples from suspected cases for further
investigations. The samples are being analyzed at the Uganda Virus
Research Institute, Entebbe.
- The Ministry is conducting an orientation of local healthcare
workers in Kabale Regional Referral Hospital and in the other peripheral
health facilities on infection prevention and control, barrier nursing,
surveillance, and clinical case management. This is being done to build
health workers’ capacity to handle such cases.
- In Rushoroza Health Centre, a burial committee has been set up to
manage burials of people suspected to have died of Marburg virus
disease. The committee has been oriented on burial procedures and
infection prevention and control. This is one of the control measures to
curb the spread of the highly contiguous disease. The committee has so
far supervised 2 burials.
- A team from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
is expected in the country to undertake anthropological [sic;
The Ministry of Health once again urges the public to take the following measures to avert the spread of the disease.
- Report immediately any suspected patient to a nearby health unit
- Avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person suspected to be
suffering from Marburg virus disease by using protective materials like
gloves and masks
- Persons who have died of Marburg virus disease must be handled with strong protective wear and buried immediately
- Avoid eating dead animals [sic; presumably animals that died of disease]
- Avoid unnecessary public gatherings especially in the affected district
- Burial of suspicious community deaths should be done under close supervision of well trained burial teams
- Report all suspicious deaths to a nearby health facility.
Once again the Ministry of Health calls upon the public to stay calm,
as all possible measures are being undertaken to control the situation.
Hon Dr Christine Ondoa
Ugandan Minister of Health