Death toll of Uganda’s Marburg outbreak rises to eightSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 30/10/2012 8:39 pm in World / no comments
KAMPALA, Oct. 30 — The death toll of the deadly Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Uganda has risen to eight and nine other people have tested positive of the highly infectious diseases, a top ministry of health official said.
Christine Ondoa, Minister of Health told reporters on Monday that the latest patient died on Oct. 27 at an isolation ward at Rushoroza Health Centre, in the western Ugandan district of Kabale, the epicenter of the outbreak.
The disease broke out on Oct. 4 in Kabale.
Five people have tested positive of the highly infectious viral hemorrhagic fever in Kabale, two others in the capital Kampala and another two in the western district of Ibanda.
“To date, the death toll of both the probable and confirmed cases stands at eight. Since the onset of the outbreak, we have collected a total of 45 samples of which nine were confirmed positive,” said Ondoa.
She said the ministry has established temporary isolation facilities in Kabale, Mbarara, Ibanda and Kampala to accommodate the suspected and confirmed cases.
“We have assembled a team of experts to work in the newly established isolation facilities and they are expected in these districts today. We also plan to undertake infection control procedures in these facilities as safety measures for the workers and the admitted patients,” said Ondoa.
A total of seven student nurses who attended to a Marburg patient at Ibanda Hospital and died on Oct. 24 at Mbarara Regional Hospital have been quarantined.
The ministry is also monitoring a total 436 people who had contact with the patients.
“Those being monitored got into contact with either the dead or confirmed cases. The team continues to monitor them on a daily basis for possible signs and symptoms of this highly infectious disease until they have completed 21 days without showing any signs and symptoms,”Ondoa said.
Joaquim Saweka, World Health Organization (WHO) country representative said that although the disease highly virulent, travel restrictions should not be imposed.
“As WHO we are not recommending travel restrictions in Uganda. We shall only restrict the movements when the situation goes out of hand. We are currently cooperating with the ministry to contain the situation,” Saweka said.
“We need to strengthen the disease surveillance. We appeal to Uganda’s treasury to allocate a supplementary budget and release funds to ministry of health to implement its intervention plans to reduce the risks. Otherwise, our efforts will be worthless,” he said.
The ministry of health last week dispatched a team of experts to the worst hit south western region.
Ondoa told reporters that her ministry has trained a total of 42 volunteers from the Uganda Red Cross Society and deployed them to conduct house to house community sensitization and active case tracing. It also plans to set up burial committees in Ibanda district to manage burials of people suspected to have died of the disease.
The ministry urged the public to avoid unnecessary public gatherings, direct contact with body fluids of a person suffering from Marburg, avoid eating dead animals and report any suspected patient to a nearby health unit.
The Marburg virus was last reported in Uganda in 2008.
The killer disease is spread through direct contact with wounds, body fluid like blood, saliva, vomits, stool and urine of an infected person.
A person suffering from the disease presents with sudden onset of high fever with headache, vomiting blood, joint and muscle pains and bleeding through the body openings.
Although it is a highly contagious disease and kills in a short time, it can easily be prevented, according to the ministry.