Kenya on high alert over Marburg outbreak in Tanzania

Marburg virus Tanzania

A health worker leaves an isolated area in Uige, Angola where residents with Marburg virus were being treated in 2015. Tanzania has reported an outbreak of the disease. FILE PHOTO | AFP

Kenya is on high alert following the outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus disease in neighbouring Tanzania’s northwest Kagera region that could threaten the tourism and travel industry.

The Health ministry has started screening travellers at all border points between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to contain its spread into the country.

The haemorrhagic fever, which broke out last week in Bulinda and Butayaibega villages on the southwestern shores of Lake Victoria in Tanzania, has killed five people, with three others in critical condition.

“The ministry has activated its surveillance and response mechanism and... directed county health officials to be vigilant and isolate any suspect cases for proper and timely management,” Health acting director-general Dr Patrick Amoth said.

The viral disease similar to Ebola causes high fever, severe headaches, flu-like pains --including muscle aches, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea, and it is transmitted through blood, vomit, diarrhoea and other bodily fluids.

Marburg virus has a fatality rate of 88 percent and can be contracted through exposure to mines or caves inhabited by bats, consumption of bush meat or physical contact with an infected person.

Tanzania’s outbreak came a month after Equatorial Guinea confirmed its first-ever Marburg disease.

The World Health Organisation said Tuesday a health worker was among the three confirmed dead. About 161 contacts in Tanzania are being monitored.

Strict rules and screening are also being observed in neighbouring Uganda.

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