Health worker among deaths in Tanzania's Marburg outbreak

Ebola healthcare worker

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Major health groups today added new details about Tanzania's Marburg virus outbreak, its first and Africa's fourth to be reported since 2021.

The outbreak total stands at eight cases, five them fatal, and one of the deaths involves a healthcare worker, according to statements yesterday from the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The fatality rate is 63%, and three patients are being treated at designated treatment centers, Africa CDC said.

It also raised concerns about the outbreak's location in the northwestern region Kagera, which borders Uganda to the north, Rwanda to the west, and Burundi to the southwest. "The high population mobility within the region poses a risk of cross-border spread," Africa CDC said, adding that it is deploying experts to the country and is in contact with Tanzania's health ministry to understand the cross-border risks.

The WHO said it is working with Tanzania's government to scale up control measures.

Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, who directs the WHO's regional office, praised the actions of Tanzanian health officials in identifying and effectively responding to the outbreak. "The lessons learnt, and progress made during other recent outbreaks should stand the country in good stead as it confronts this latest challenge," she said.

Equatorial Guinea is also currently battling its first Marburg virus outbreak. Since 2021, Guinea and Ghana have also reported their first outbreaks involving the virus.

Marburg virus, a cousin of Ebola, is transmitted to people from fruit bats, and human-to-human spread can occur through contact with the body fluids of infected patients. It has a fatality rate as high as 88%. There are no specific treatments and no vaccines, but Africa CDC said supportive management can improve survival.

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