Dr.Ouma: Tanzania Marburg Outbreak Reminds Africa To Heighten Health Security

Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC)’s Acting Director Dr.Ahmed Ogwell Ouma has reminded the African continent to strengthen health security in the wake of an outbreak of Marburg Virus Disease(MVD) in Tanzania—the first ever outbreak of MVD in the country.

Dr. Ouma’s remarks come a day after the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Tanzania declared an outbreak MVD in Bukoba district, Kagera region, north western part of the country, with eight confirmed cases and five deaths so far.

Also read: Tanzania Confirms Marburg Virus Outbreak

Over a month ago, Equatorial Guinea—another African country— confirmed its first ever outbreak of Marburg which killed nine people, with 16 cases placed under close monitoring. The outbreak in Tanzania is the second in less than two months in Africa.

Source: Africa CDC

“These emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases are a sign that the health security of the continent needs to be strengthened to cope with the disease threats,” he said in a statement, further highlighting how the Africa CDC is engaging Tanzania to understand the cross-border context of the outbreak to guide regional surveillance strategies in containing the outbreak.

Also read: WHO Deploys Emergency Response Team In Tanzania’s Marburg-hit Region

The Africa CDC said it would immediately deploy a team of experts to Tanzania to support response efforts. The cases being monitored so far in Tanzania is 161, according to World Health Organization.

A health worker is among those who died of the disease while three of those infected are undergoing treatment at designated health facilities in Bukoba.

“Africa CDC remains committed to support Tanzania and her neighbours to arrest this outbreak as soon as possible. We urge members of the public to continue sharing information in a timely manner with the authorities to enable a most effective response,’’ urged Dr. Ouma.

Tanzania’s Chief Medical Officer Prof. Tumaini Nagu said the first patient emerged from Goziba Island in Lake Victoria and started displaying symptoms of MVD on arrival in Bukoba Municipality.

MVD is a highly fatal, disease caused by the Marburg virus. Human-to-human transmission occurs through direct contact with body fluids from infected persons, or contact with equipment and other materials contaminated with infectious blood or tissues, body fluids of infected people, and contaminated surfaces or materials.

Although neither licensed vaccine nor approved treatment for MVD is available, supportive management improves survival. Existing infection prevention and control protocols for Ebola and other viral hemorrhagic fevers can be used to prevent transmission of MVD.

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