In a follow-up on the officially declared Marburg virus outbreak in Uganda, the World Health Organization (WHO) offered a substantial amount of detail today:

Marburg virus/Frederick Murphy
Marburg virus/Frederick Murphy

On 17 October 2017, the Uganda Ministry of Health notified WHO of an outbreak of Marburg virus disease in Kween District, located in the eastern part of the country. The index case was a 50-year-old woman who became ill on 3 October 2017 and was initially admitted to a local health facility (Kaproron Health Centre IV) on 5 October 2017 with fever and bleeding diathesis. On 10 October 2017, the case-patient was referred to Kapchorwa Hospital where she died on the evening of 11 October 2017, and was buried on 13 October 2017 under local cultural customs.

Post-mortem blood specimens were collected on 11 October 2017 and sent to the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) in Entebbe. On 17 October 2017, laboratory results from UVRI indicated that the specimens tested positive for Marburg virus disease by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Accordingly, the Ministry for Health officially declared the outbreak on 19 October 2017. Further investigations established that the index case had nursed and participated in the burial rituals of her brother, who is considered the primary (first) case in this outbreak.

The third (probable) case is the brother of the first two cases, who transported his sister (the index case) to the hospital and subsequently became symptomatic. Further information on this case is being obtained.

On 19 October 2017, the health authority in Kapchorwa Hospital detected a fourth suspected case in a 2-year-old child admitted with similar symptoms. Further details on this case are being obtained.

As of 19 October 2017, four cases of Marburg virus disease (one confirmed, two probable and one suspect) have been reported from Kween and Kapchorwa districts. To date, 41 contacts have been identified and are being followed up.

Marburg virus disease outbreaks have been documented in Uganda since 2007, the last being an isolated case in 2014. A large outbreak occurred in 2012, during which 15 cases and 4 deaths were reported. Cases have historically been reported among miners and travellers who visited caves inhabited by bat colonies, especially in the western part of Uganda.