In the heat of the media hype surrounding the Ebola outbreak it is possible that the Marburg outbreak in Uganda could be forgotten. Marburg is similar to Ebola although generally considered less lethal. On the 28th of September 2014 the first victim in Uganda died generating more than 100 contacts for surveillance. Updates from the region are spotty at best and often contradictory. The following update is based only on information with multiple sources.

  • Five Ugandans are in isolation with no confirmations that Marburg has spread.
  • Up to 149 contacts are being monitored for the virus.
  • The nurse responsible for treating the first patient has tested negative to date.
  • Kenya has placed health officials at key border points to monitor border crossings
  • A possible second outbreak is being investigated and two patients have been isolated
  • It is not clear how the index patients became infected. It is thought that previous outbreaks resulted from contact with Bat guano.
  • On the weekend several tweets indicated that a second Marburg death had occurred. The Ministry has claimed the suspected patient died of “liver failure”.
  • The World Health Organization has confirmed the outbreak and is monitoring the situation.
  • Reports that at least 8 people developed symptoms have been denied by the official Health Ministry.

Uganda has extensive experience in dealing with Marburg. They recently brought an outbreak under control in 2012 as well as on several occasions before that. The virus displays similar symptoms to Ebola with the largest outbreak recorded in Angola during 2004 and 2005 where 252 cases were confirmed.

Ebola and Marburg outbreaks have occurred across the region in the past resulting in well established protocols and procedures for dealing with contagious diseases. If no new cases are reported by the 20th of October it is likely that the outbreak will be declared over by mid November 2014.