Rapid action prevented the spread of the deadly Marburg virus just weeks after it was first detected in Uganda, the World Health Organization reports.
The first case of the disease in the African country was confirmed October 17, when laboratory tests found the death of a 50-year-old woman was due to the Marburg virus.
“Within 24 hours of being informed by the Ugandan health authorities in early October, WHO deployed a rapid response team to the remote mountainous area and we have financed the immediate support and scaled up the response in Uganda and Kenya,” said World Health Organization spokeswoman, Fadela Chaib.
WHO released $623,000 from its emergency fund to finance the action.
Marburg is a highly fatal disease caused by a virus from the same family as that of Ebola. It can be transmitted from person to person by bodily fluids, and can cause bleeding, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms.
This was the fifth outbreak of Marburg virus in a decade, and lessons have been learned from those outbreaks, as well as from the West African Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people.
“Marburg is very infectious,” Chaib said. “It was also important to trace all the contacts of this first case and to follow them for a period of 21 days, plus 21 days just to make sure that there [are] no other cases being detected.”
WHO reports three people died over the course of the outbreak, which affected two districts in eastern Uganda near the Kenyan border. Surveillance and contact tracing on the Kenyan side of the border by the Kenyan Ministry of Health and its partners also prevented cross-border spread of the disease, according to WHO.