Marburg fever case confirmed in Uganda

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Aug 3, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – A Ugandan miner who died in mid-July had Marburg hemorrhagic fever, and another worker at the same mine has a suspected case, the World Health Organization announced today.

The miner, aged 29, became ill on Jul 4, was hospitalized 3 days later, and died Jul 14, the WHO said. He had cared for a 21-year-old coworker who had fallen ill with similar symptoms on Jun 27 and was hospitalized but later recovered.

The deceased man's case was confirmed by laboratory tests at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Jul 30, the WHO reported.

From interviews with mine authorities, health officials have identified one more suspected Marburg case, plus two people who had a similar illness in mid-June but recovered, the WHO said. The mine is in western Uganda.

All the miners under investigation for the disease had been at the mine continuously for 8 months, according to the WHO. No cases have been reported in healthcare workers.

The Ugandan Ministry of Health has sent rapid response teams to the mine area to investigate, with support from the WHO and other organizations, the WHO reported.

The WHO said there is no indication of a need for restrictions on travel to or trade with Uganda.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Marburg, a viral hemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola fever. Besides fever and weakness, early symptoms include severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, severe chest pain, sore throat, and cough, according to the WHO. The incubation period is 3 to 9 days. Contact with bodily fluids of infected people is the main risk factor for infection.

The disease was first seen in 1967 in German and Yugoslavian laboratory workers who had been exposed to green monkeys imported from Uganda. However, researchers have not been able to identify the virus's primary animal reservoir between the rare outbreaks.

The last major reported Marburg outbreak occurred in Angola from October 2004 to July 2005 and involved 252 cases, of which 227 were fatal. It is listed as the largest outbreak on record.

See also:

Aug 3 WHO news release

WHO fact sheet on Marburg hemorrhagic fever

Nov 10, 2005, CIDRAP News story "Angola declares worst Marburg outbreak over"

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