The last outbreak of the filovirus, Marburg virus in Uganda took place in 2012 where some 20 people were sickened and 9 died due to the Ebola virus “cousin”.

Marburg Virus Disease
Marburg virus virions/CDC

Today, the Uganda Ministry of Health reports confirming a Marburg virus outbreak where one health worker died and up to 80 suspected cases are being investigated.

Minister of State for Health Elioda Tumwesigye said a 30-year-old man died in late September. He worked at Mengo hospital as a X-ray technician.

“80 suspected cases have been isolated, 38 are Mengo workers, 22 are from Mpigi Health Center Four, while 20 are in Mukunyu village in Kasese district where the deceased was buried,” Dr. Tumwesigye explained.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided technical and logistical support to contain the disease.

Marburg hemorrhagic fever is a rare, severe type of hemorrhagic fever which affects both humans and non-human primates. Caused by a genetically unique zoonotic (that is, animal-borne) RNA virus of the filovirus family, its recognition led to the creation of this virus family. The five species of Ebola virus are the only other known members of the filovirus family.

Recent scientific studies implicate the African fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) as the reservoir host of the Marburg virus. The African fruit bat is a sighted, cave-dwelling bat which is widely distributed across Africa. Fruit bats infected with Marburg virus do not to show obvious signs of illness. Primates, including humans, can become infected with Marburg virus, which can progress to serious disease with high mortality.

Just how the animal host first transmits Marburg virus to humans is unknown.

Related: The World’s Deadliest Viruses

After an incubation period of 5-10 days, the onset of the disease is sudden and is marked by fever, chills, headache, and myalgia. Around the fifth day after the onset of symptoms, a maculopapular rash, most prominent on the trunk (chest, back, stomach), may occur. Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, a sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea then may appear. Symptoms become increasingly severe and may include jaundice, inflammation of the pancreas, severe weight loss, delirium, shock, liver failure, massive hemorrhaging, and multi-organ dysfunction. The case-fatality rate for marburgMarburg hemorrhagic fever outbreaks is between 23-88%.

Confirmed cases of Marburg HF have been reported in Uganda, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Angola. Cases of Marburg HF have occurred outside Africa, though infrequently.

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