Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Marburg Epidemic Spreading in Angola

Concerns are growing internationally as the outbreak of the Ebola-like Marburg virus is spreading in Angola. With 126 confirmed deaths, this is already the largest Marburg outbreak ever recorded. Infections are now also reported outside Angola's Uige province and among health workers.

While the Marburg outbreak is still mainly concentrated in the northern province of Uige, 4 deaths have already been reported in Angola's capital, Luanda, and several more are infected. Also in Angola's northern exclave Cabinda, one death has been confirmed and 14 contacts have been placed under hospital quarantine.

There are also concerns that the epidemic may spread outside the country. A recent passenger from Angola to Portugal died on Saturday. His death, which is still under investigation, may have been caused by the Marburg virus and Portuguese authorities are on high alert. Finally, authorities in Congo Kinshasa (DRC) are on alert, as that country neighbours both Uige and Cabinda in an area where borders are porous.

The Angolan Ministry of Health has formally declared an epidemic in the province of Uige and is now closely monitoring the few cases reported outside Uige. National authorities further are receiving technical support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other UN agencies to control the spread of the deadly virus.

The work to control the outbreak is however not without risks. At least two policemen, two physicians and six nurses have died due to their work with Marburg patients. The two physicians - from Italy and Vietnam - died in Luanda last week after treating patients in Uige. Another Angolan physician is also infected.

The Marburg virus disease has no vaccine or curative treatment and is mostly rapidly fatal. In the present outbreak, most deaths have occurred between 3 to 7 days following the onset of symptoms. The Ebola-like disease is a viral haemorrhagic fever causing an acute febrile illness. A severe watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting are early symptoms, as are severe chest and lung pains, sore throat, and cough.

Source: Afrol News

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