Marburg virus disease (MVD)

Tanzania declares Marburg Virus Disease Outbreak

Africa CDC, a continental public health agency, has moved to support response efforts after Tanzania declared a Marburg virus disease (MVD) outbreak.

Tanzania’s Health officials declared the MVD outbreak in the Bukoba district of the country’s northwestern region of Kagera.

Cumulatively, Tanzania confirmed eight cases and five deaths, including a healthcare worker. Three are undergoing treatment at designated medical centers.

Health ministry has also deployed rapid response teams to support further investigations.

Samples collected tested positive after cases presented with fever, vomiting, and bleeding from different body orifices.

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

Today, the African Union’s public health Agency, Africa CDC, says it is immediately deploying a team of experts to Tanzania to support response efforts.

“Africa CDC remains committed to support Tanzania and her neighbors to arrest this outbreak as soon as possible,” said it’s Acting General Director Ahmed Ouma.

The virus transmits human-to-human through direct contact with body fluids from infected persons, or contaminated materials and surfaces.

Currently, there is neither a licensed vaccine nor an approved treatment available for MVD – a highly fatal zoonotic haemorrhagic disease caused by the Marburg virus. 

Supportive management improves survival, says the African CDC, stating existing infection prevention and control protocols for Ebola and other viral hemorrhagic fevers can be used to prevent transmission of MVD.

This is the first time a confirmed case of MVD is reported in Tanzania.

The Kagera region, where the outbreak is declared, is bordered by Uganda to the north, Rwanda to the west, and Burundi to the southwest.

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

The agency has engaged Tanzania to understand the cross-border context of the outbreak, saying it would guide regional surveillance strategies in containing the outbreak.

“We urge members of the public to continue sharing information in a timely manner with the authorities to enable a most effective response,” Ouma added.

“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 added.

Currently, two African Union Member States including Equatorial Guinea are reporting active MVD outbreaks.