Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WHO declares Uganda Marburg Free


Hon. Sarah Achieng Opendi
Minister of State for Health – Primary Health Care
P. O. BOX 7272,

Press Statement

Today, the Ministry of Health wishes to inform the Public that the country is officially declared free of the Marburg Virus Epidemic. The declaration comes after completion of 42 days of the Post Marburg Surveillance countdown period which is a prerequisite of the World Health Organization (WHO) requiring any affected country to monitor the situation of any Viral Hemorrhagic Fever for that period before finally declaring an end to the outbreak.

The outbreak of the epidemic was declared on October 4th 2014 following laboratory tests done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) which confirmed that one person, a health worker, had died of the viral hemorrhagic fever.

The index case was a 30-year-old male Radiographer, who originally was working in Mpigi Health Centre IV, Mpigi Town Council but had been recruited by Mengo Hospital two months before his death on September 28th 2014 at Mengo Hospital.

The Ministry of Health informs the general public that since then, there have been no Marburg cases reported in the country. This implies that the Marburg outbreak in the country has completely been controlled. Marburg is a highly infectious viral hemorrhagic fever that is spread through direct contact with, body fluids like blood, saliva, vomitus, stool and urine of an infected person. A person suffering from Marburg presents with sudden onset of high fever with any of the following; headache, vomiting blood, joint and muscle pains and bleeding through the body openings like the eyes, nose, gums, ears, anus and the skin.

From 4th October 2014 when the outbreak of Marburg was declared, the National Task Force on epidemics took up the coordination of all interventions geared towards combating the epidemic.

Additionally, the district taskforces of Kasese, Mpigi and Ibanda were alerted to trace all people who could have got into contact with the confirmed case. Consequently four isolation centers were set at; Mulago National Referral Hospital, the National Isolation Centre in Entebbe, Mpigi Health Centre IV and in Kagando Hospital in Kasese.

During the period of the outbreak, a total of 197 people were followed up for three weeks in Kampala, Mpigi and Kasese districts. These are people who got into contact with the confirmed case either during his sickness or after death. During this time, eight of these contacts developed symptoms similar to those of Marburg. However, their results tested negative for the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

A total of 13 samples were also collected from different parts of the country (Ibanda, Lira, Kitgum, Jinja, Gulu, Luwero and Kampala ) as part of a wider surveillance network during the period. On a good note however, they all tested negative for the Marburg virus.

By 20th November, all the contacts had completed their 21 days of monitoring and apart from the 8 who required laboratory investigation and tested negative; the rest did not develop symptoms which confirms that none contracted the virus. An additional 21 days of surveillance was carried out to make 42 days as a requirement for management and control of viral Haemorrhagic fevers.

The Ministry of Health urges the public to reduce the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission by avoiding contact with fruit bats, reduce the risk of human-to-human transmission in the community in-case of suspected cases reported by avoiding direct or close contact with suspected patients.

We urge the Healthworkers to wear gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment when taking care of ill patients.

The public is also urged to embrace regular hand washing after visiting patients in hospital, before eating and after using the toilets, to avoid infections.

Finally, the Ministry of Health recognizes the contribution of the different development partners for their support during the outbreak. Special recognition goes to the World Health Organization, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Medicens San Frontiers, UNICEF, USAID (Communication for Healthy Communities), Airtel Uganda, Uganda Red Cross Society, World Vision Uganda, AFENET and the Media.

The Ministry of Health further acknowledges the efforts and contribution of Kampala Capital City Authority towards the control of this out break.

Lastly, the Government of Uganda once again reassures the general public that it is committed to protecting the population by ensuring that all measures are in place for early detection and immediate response to all Viral Haemorrhagic fever out breaks.

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