Three days ago, the Ugandan government declared that the country was free of the Marburg virus. This probably isn’t news to you, however, knowledge of the Marburg virus will make you appreciate how they managed to control the disease.
Marburg disease, similar to Ebola causes hemorrhagic fevers – severe bleeding in the body, organ failure and many cases death. Just like Ebola, its a virus native to Africa. Just like Ebola, they live in animal hosts and spread through bodily fluids. For a similar strange reason, no drugs have been approved to treat Marburg Virus Disease, and only a small amount of funding has gone to research to develop vaccines for the deadly disease.
Unlike the ebola affected countries in west Africa, Uganda managed to control the virus immediately. Patient zero is a male health professional who developed symptoms of the virus in September 11 this year. Six days later, he as admitted to a district health facility in Mpigi, central Uganda. He was later transferred to a hospital in Kampala and died September 28th. The Ugandan government notified the World Health Organisation of the case on the 4th of October.
The government went on a rigorous project to ensure no other person was infected with the virus, and create a national task force with 5 sub committees (surveillance/epidemiology, case management, social mobilization, psychosocial, and coordination) which managed the outbreak response. The surveillance created 197 case contacts and were followed up for 21 days. Of the 197, 13 contacts developed Marburg-like symptoms but all tested negative to the virus. The cases were managed in 4 isolation facilities in Kampala, Wakiso,Mpigi and Kasese districts. The facilities included psychological support to the family members and public sensitization carried out efficiently. Since its been 42 days since inactive cases, the government went back to WHO to inform them that the outbreak is contained, however the government is still cautious of the virus.
The response was supported by WHO, UNICEF, USAID, World Vision, Uganda Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
One would wonder if a similar approach (which Nigeria took) was taken by Liveria, Sierra Leone and Guinea, with sufficient resources – would the Ebola virus broken so many families? And isn’t it time for Africa to create their OWN science research laboratories for vaccine improvement on these viruses without looking for a complete outward solution?