Editor's note: As originally published, the story below incorrectly listed the number of deaths in the Marburg epidemic as 337. The correct number, 335, was substituted on Jun 8, 2005.
May 27, 2005 (CIDRAP News) Angola's epidemic of Marburg hemorrhagic fever reached 399 cases with 335 deaths yesterday, an increase of 62 cases and 24 deaths in the preceding 8 days, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) statement.
The agency had reported 337 cases, including 311 deaths, on May 18.
The epidemic is still concentrated in the northern province of Uige, which accounts for 388 cases and 324 deaths, the WHO reported.
Efforts to trace contacts of Marburg patients are becoming more efficient, but cases without known links to previous cases are continuing to turn up, the agency reported. This suggests that the surveillance system has not yet "reached the efficiency needed to interrupt chains of transmission," the statement said.
Four new suspected cases, including three deaths, were reported yesterday in Bungo municipality, marking the first cases there since early April. An urgent investigation has been launched to determine if those cases can be linked to the city of Uige, where transmission is ongoing. Bungo is in Uige province, but "Another focus of transmission would be a disturbing development for outbreak control," the statement said.
About 200 traditional healers recently were trained in ways to reduce the risk of disease for themselves and their clients and were given masks and gloves, the WHO reported. Marburg spreads through contact with bodily fluids of patients.
Educational campaigns focusing on the hazards of home treatment with injections have resulted in the collection and safe disposal of large numbers of syringes, the agency said. But it is unclear whether the use of home injections has been eliminated in the province.
The Angolan outbreak, which was identified as Marburg on Mar 22, is the largest on record. First recognized in 1967, the disease can cause bleeding from multiple body sites and result in death within a week.
May 27 WHO statement