Marburg toll in Angola continues to grow

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Apr 1, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The Marburg hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Angola has killed more people than the largest previous outbreak of the disease and is continuing to spread, according to the latest reports.

The governor of Uige province in northern Angola, the center of the outbreak, said the province alone has had 150 cases, including 142 deaths, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report today.

The largest previous Marburg outbreak, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, involved 149 cases with 123 deaths from 1998 to 2000.

In a statement today, the World Health Organization (WHO) put the size of the outbreak at 140 cases with 132 deaths as of yesterday. Just yesterday the WHO reported 132 cases with 127 deaths and said the case-patients included 12 healthcare workers.

Previous reports said that about 75% of the patients were children, but the latest reports have not given any information about the age range.

Marburg fever, for which there is no vaccine or cure, spreads through contact with bodily fluids of infected people. Resembling the deadly Ebola fever, Marburg causes severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, severe chest pain, sore throat, and cough. In later stages it leads to bleeding.

Nine people have been isolated in an Italian hospital because of possible exposure to the virus, according to another AFP report published today. WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib in Geneva, who reported the situation, did not name the hospital or list the nationalities of the nine people.

Chaib also said two suspected cases have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which borders Angola, AFP reported.

Yesterday the WHO said mobile surveillance teams had been set up and were checking rumors of cases in Uige province. A mobile field laboratory from Canada began operating today, and a dedicated isolation facility operated by Medicins sans Frontieres was preparing to receive patients identified by the surveillance teams, the agency said.

More staff members from the WHO and its Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network were due to arrive in Angola this weekend, the WHO said. The agency also has sent personal protective equipment and mobile communication field kits.

See also:

Apr 1 WHO statement
http://www.who.int/csr/don/2005_04_01/en/

Mar 31 WHO statement
http://www.who.int/csr/don/2005_03_31a/en/

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