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Marburg in Uganda

This information is current as of today, February 16, 2013 at 11:16 EST

Updated: January 16, 2013

What Is the Current Situation?

The Ugandan Ministry of Health (MOH) has reported an outbreak of Marburg hemorrhagic fever in the Kitumba subcounty of the Kabale and Ibanda Districts in southwestern Uganda. As of November 25, 23 cases and 15 deaths have been reported. Fifteen of the cases are laboratory confirmed.

The city of Kabale is within several miles of the outbreak. Kabale is often a stopping point for people visiting both Lake Bunyonyi and the Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks, which are famous for mountain gorilla tracking. This city is also a transportation hub, with roads leading to both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. CDC is working closely with the Ugandan MOH and the World Health Organization (WHO) to control the outbreak. CDC does not recommend any travel restrictions at this time.

What Is Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever?

Marburg hemorrhagic fever (Marburg HF) is a rare and deadly disease. The virus that causes Marburg HF is thought to be carried by African fruit bats. Scientists do not know exactly how the virus is spread from bats to humans.  People have become infected by touching fluids or blood of infected people or infected monkeys. People in close contact with people who have the virus are at highest risk.

Symptoms include fever; headache; muscle aches; rash on the chest, back, or stomach; nausea; vomiting; chest pain; sore throat; abdominal pain; and diarrhea. Severe symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes), severe weight loss, shock, massive internal bleeding, and failure of multiple internal organs.

How Can Travelers Protect Themselves?

There is no vaccine to prevent Marburg HF and no specific treatment for people who become ill. Although travelers are at low risk for the disease, it is important to take steps to prevent Marburg HF.

  • Practice good hygiene. Avoid contact with blood and body fluids of infected people. Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
  • Avoid contact with bats, such as entering bat caves.
  • Avoid contact with other animals, especially monkeys. Health care workers who may be exposed to people with the disease should follow these steps:

Clinician Information:

Marburg HF is a notifiable condition in the United States. If a person with travel history to affected areas has the symptoms described above and infection with Marburg virus is suspected, isolate the patient and notify local and state health departments and CDC.

Antigen-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing, IgM-capture ELISA, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and virus isolation can be used to confirm a case of Marburg HF within a few days of the onset of symptoms. The IgG-capture ELISA is appropriate for testing persons later in the course of disease or after recovery. The disease is readily diagnosed by immunohistochemistry, virus isolation, or PCR of blood or tissue specimens from deceased patients.

There is no standard treatment for Marburg HF. Patients receive supportive therapy that consists of balancing the patient’s fluids and electrolytes, maintaining their oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating them for any complicating infections.

Additional Information:

Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever (CDC Viral Special Pathogens Branch)
Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (CDC Yellow Book)

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