Sunday, October 21 2012
New case. One more death reported in Kabale as health officials
monitor another confirmed case who crossed to Rukungiri, seeking help
from preachers. The death toll from an outbreak of the Marburg virus, a
rare and highly contagious form of hemorrhagic fever closely related to
the Ebola, has risen to five in just four days, with a new suspected
case registered Friday night.
Nathan Biryamurabaho 50, a resident of Bukora Kitumba Sub-county, was
the fifth person to die of the virus that was confirmed on Friday in
the south-western district of Kabale by the Ministry of Health. The
developments come 16 days after Uganda was declared Ebola free.
The Kabale Regional Referral Hospital Director, Dr Placid Mihayo,
said the patient died a few hours after he had been referred from
Rugarama Hospital when his condition worsened.
The victim is a relative to the family that lost four people in the
same sub-county who tested positive to the Marburg virus. “The deceased
died at our isolated ward. The symptoms are exactly similar to those of
his relatives who died on Thursday at this hospital. We need experts
from the Ministry to demonstrate how to handle this emergency scare so
that our members of staff can learn from them,” Dr Mihayo said.
The Kabale District Health Officer, Dr Patrick Tusiime, said the
relatives of the deceased sneaked the body out of the hospital after the
medical team abandoned them. “We are planning to go to the residence
of the deceased and pick the body for postmortem. Such handling of
suspected Marburg case should stop because the virus shall spread very
fast to other people,” Dr Tusiime said.
October deaths - Another four people who have died since October 4
were also suspected to have been killed by the disease, the Health
ministry said in a statement. “Preliminary reports from the district
indicate that four other people had allegedly died of a strange disease
since October 4th,” said a press statement issues by Health ministry.
Dr Tusiime said another confirmed victim of the highly-infectious
viral hemorrhagic fever only identified as Obed had crossed into
Rukungiri District. Obed is said to be seeking healing from religious
leaders as he claims to have been bewitched. He escaped from the health
facility on Wednesday.
“The results from the Uganda Virus Research Institute clearly show
that this man is Marburg positive. We have located where he is and we
have liaised with our health counterparts in Rukungiri to monitor him
from there,” Dr Tusiime said.
Despite the availability of protective gears and first aid treatment,
fear has gripped the medical workers who are now abandoning the
“Last evening (Friday), when health officials learnt that the victims
who passed away had similar symptoms as those of the four confirmed
cases who had died earlier, they run away because they are scared of the
disease,” said Dr Tusiime.
The hospital has now requested for experts from the Ministry of
Health to handle the patients. A team of health officials have already
been dispatched to the district to support both clinical and public
health investigations. Also a National Taskforce has reactivated its
rapid response committees to quickly act on any emergencies.
Efforts are also underway to trace and list all possible contacts
that were exposed to the suspects and confirmed cases. The Ministry of
Health urges the general public to report any suspected patient to a
nearby health unit and avoid public gatherings or direct contact with
body fluids of a person suffering from Marburg by using gloves and
The last outbreak of Marburg in Uganda came in 2007 and killed two miners in the district.