Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) outbreak hits East Africa’s Republic of Tanzania

TANZANIA —The Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Republic of Tanzania has declared an outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD) in Bukoba district.

A total of 161 contacts have been identified and are being monitored. In addition, active case search, case management and risk communication are ongoing in affected communities.

Cumulatively, eight confirmed cases and five deaths, including a healthcare worker, have been reported (case fatality rate: 63%), while three are undergoing treatment at designated treatment centers.

Cases presented with fever, vomiting, and bleeding from different body orifices. Samples collected tested positive by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at the National Public Health Laboratory.

This is the first time a confirmed case of MVD is reported in Tanzania. Kagera region is located in North-western Tanzania and is bordered by Uganda to the North, Rwanda to the West and Burundi to the South-west.

The high population mobility within the region poses a risk of cross-border spread.

Marburg virus disease (MVD) is a highly fatal, zoonotic hemorrhagic disease caused by the Marburg virus.

MVD is transmitted through human-to-human contact with bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces, with an incubation period of 2 to 21 days.

Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, malaise, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.

Although there are no approved vaccines or antiviral treatments, supportive care and symptom-specific treatments can improve survival.

Also, existing infection prevention and control protocols for Ebola and other viral hemorrhagic fevers can be used to prevent transmission of MVD.

MVD impact in Africa

On 7 February 2023, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Equatorial Guinea reported the deaths of a number of individuals with suspected hemorrhagic fever.

Days later on 12 February 2023, one sample was confirmed positive for Marburg virus by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), at the Institute Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal.

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Equatorial Guinea reported several deaths with suspected hemorrhagic fever on 7 February 2023.

Later, on 12 February 2023, one sample was confirmed positive for Marburg virus by RT-PCR at the Institute Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal.

Ongoing investigations are being conducted to identify additional cases, and the WHO is providing support by strengthening contact tracing, case management, infection prevention, and control, laboratory services, risk communication, and community engagement.

According to experts from Africa CDC, the emergence of these infectious diseases highlights the need to strengthen health security in Africa.

To assist with response efforts in Tanzania, the Africa CDC is deploying a team of experts and engaging with the Ministry of Health of Tanzania to understand the cross-border context of the outbreak to guide regional surveillance strategies for containing the outbreak.

Tanzania has reported its first outbreak of MVD, while previous outbreaks have been reported in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea, Uganda, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and South Africa.

Various treatments, including blood products, immune therapies, and drug therapies, are currently being evaluated.

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