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High alert over suspected Marburg case in Trans Nzoia

Threat Illustration of Marburg virus. PHOTO | FILE
Threat Illustration of Marburg virus. PHOTO | FILE 

Health officials in Trans Nzoia County have issued an alert over a suspected case of the Ebola-like Marburg virus in the region.

This is after a Ugandan national with symptoms of the haemorrhagic fever visited a herbalist in a village in Kaisagat location, Kwanza Constituency, seeking medical assistance.

Health officials confirmed to the Nation today that samples from the Ugandan have been taken to Kemri for analysis with results expected on Wednesday morning.

“This is not Ebola but we suspect Marburg virus which is highly experienced in Uganda although it has symptoms like Ebola,” said County Director of Preventive and Promotive Health Services, Gilbert Sowon.

He urged Kenyans to be calm as the samples are examined at the laboratory to ascertain the disease.

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According to the Kitale County Hospital Medical Superintendent, Dr Emmanuel Wanjala, this is the first incidence to have occurred in the devolved unit and is being treated as a special case.

“Already quarantine has been set up in the affected area and mobilization in the community is ongoing as," he said.

Kenya has not reported cases of the Ebola Virus before although three cases suspected to be Marburg fever were recorded around Mt Elgon Region.

“In this present case we have reports that there has been a Murburg outbreak not to the scale of the West African region but about six cases were reported at Kween in Kapchorwa region of Uganda recently,” he noted.

The Medical Superintendent said that on Monday they received hospital reports that there had been a cross-border interaction of residents around Kwanza Sub County bordering Uganda.

“We are now line listing the contacts and screening those people who have come in contact with the suspected case... so far we have not confirmed but samples have been taken,” Dr Wanjala explained.

Uganda outbreak

Two people died from Marburg virus in Eastern Uganda in the country’s first outbreak of the pathogen in three years.

One of the individuals was a male hunter who died in September while his 50-year-old sister died three weeks later.

The two are the first recorded cases of Marburg in Kween district located near the country's border with Kenya.

Marburg is one of the most deadly known pathogens and has a high mortality rate. Like Ebola, it is a haemorrhagic fever that causes severe bleeding, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

It has a 21 day incubation period, just like Ebola, and is transmitted via bodily fluids.

Kenya has already issued an alert for Marburg and plague following outbreaks in Uganda and Madagascar respectively.

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