Tanzania has confirmed its first-ever cases of Marburg Virus Disease after conducting laboratory tests in the northwest Kagera region.
A statement on Wednesday by the World Health Organisation (WHO) said tests were carried out after eight people developed symptoms.
Five of the eight confirmed cases have died, including a health worker; the remaining three are receiving treatment. More than 160 contacts of those infected are being monitored.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said the efforts by Tanzania’s authorities to establish the cause of the disease is an indication of the determination to tackle the outbreak.
“We are working with the government to rapidly scale up control measures to halt the spread of the virus and end the outbreak as soon as possible,” Moeti noted.
In September 2022, the WHO conducted a strategic risk assessment that revealed Tanzania was at high risk for infectious disease outbreaks.
Marburg virus causes hemorrhagic fever, with a high fatality ratio of up to 88 percent. Other symptoms of the disease include headache, vomiting, bleeding, and kidney failure
Marburg, part of the same family as the virus that causes Ebola, is transmitted from fruit bats and spreads through contact with bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces, and materials.
Though no vaccines or antiviral treatments to treat the virus, supportive care, rehydration and treatment of specific symptoms increase the chances of survival.