A new lethal virus described as ‘clinically similar’ to Ebola has broken out in Uganda, health chiefs have confirmed.
The Marburg disease has already killed two people in the eastern region of the country.
The virus, considered to be one of the deadliest pathogens in existence, kills up to 88% of people affected.
From the same family as Ebola, Marburg is a hemorrhagic fever that causes fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.
CNN reports that Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the WHO, said two people were dead, a third case and two further potential cases have been reported in the Kween district.
Dr Diana Atwinem, Uganda’s health ministry permanent secretary, said last month a group of experts had been deployed to the Kenyan border to contain the deadly virus.
The two people confirmed to have died from Marburg, following blood samples, were a male hunter and his 50-year-old sister, who died on September 25 and October 11 respectively.
Ebola came into the news three years ago, when it savaged West Africa, killing a shocking 11,000 between 2014 and 2015.
It can passed from human to human through semen and blood or via bite from fruit bats or monkeys.
There is currently no treatment.
Health Minister Jane Ruth Achieng said the second victim had taken care of her brother during his illness and burial preparation rituals when it is suspected she contracted the disease, reports the Sun.
The WHO writes on their website:
Initially, human infection with Marburg virus disease results from prolonged exposure to mines or caves inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies.
Marburg spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
As for prevention and control, they suggest:
Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe and dignified burials, and social mobilization.
Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Raising awareness of risk factors for Marburg infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission.
Healthcare workers should always take standard precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, use of personal protective equipment (to block splashes or other contact with infected materials), safe injection practices and safe and dignified burial practices.
While there is no foolproof cure for Ebola, there are treatments out there that can significantly increase your chances of survival.
Rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival chances.
When it comes to Marburg virus disease, there is as yet no similar treatment available that has been proven given the outbreak being so recent. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated.