Updates on Marburg and Ebola

Dec 3, 2012 | Anna Tomasulo | Outbreak News

On Nov. 28, Uganda’s Ministry of Health reported seven cases of Ebola (six confirmed, one probable), and four deaths. The current Ebola outbreak is occurring in the Central Region’s Luweero and Kampala districts.

Previous reports stated there were as many as ten cases (six confirmed and four probable), but three samples since tested negative for Ebola virus.

Meanwhile, the Marburg outbreak that began in mid-October continues in the districts of Ibanda, Kampala, Kabale, and Mbarara. The latest World Health Organization (WHO) update reports 20 probable or confirmed cases and nine deaths. Contacts of Marburg cases are being monitored for the 21 days following contact.

As Uganda continues to report cases of viral hemorrhagic fever, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Health Minister, Felix Kabange Numbi, stated that the Ebola outbreak in DRC is now over. There has been no confirmation from the WHO as of yet. According to the Agence France Presse, there were 62 suspected cases infected since August. On Oct. 26, the WHO reported 52 cases (35 confirmed, 17 probable) and 25 deaths (12 confirmed, 13 probable).

The Ebola outbreak in the DRC was caused by the Bundibugyo strain, while the strain currently afflicting Uganda is the Sudan strain.

In a recent piece for Uganda’s The Observer, journalist Edward Ssekika asked why Uganda is so prone to viral hemorrhagic fevers. While the reservoir for Ebola remains unknown, many suspect that bats are the culprits. Ssekika quotes the disease prevention advisor at the WHO’s Kampala office, Dr. Mariam Nanyonjo, as stating that monkeys and fruit-eating bats were reservoirs and the increasing interaction between humans and wildlife increase the risk of Ebola spread. Dr/. Joaquim Saweka, WHO representative to Uganda seems to agree, suggesting that “increased exposure of humans to secretions from virus hosts like bats and monkeys makes us more susceptible to Ebola.”

Ssekika reminds readers that this is the fourth major outbreak in Uganda in the last 12 years.

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