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Marburg Fever Overwhelms Angolan Hospital
March 31, 2005
Luanda, March 31, 2005 - A Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency team arrived last Sunday in the Angolan province of Uige, the source of a Marburg fever epidemic. According to official data by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), there have so far been 117 deaths out of 124 confirmed cases of Marburg, a disease that is similar to Ebola.
MSF began rehabilitation of a provincial hospital in Uige, where most of the cases have been attended. The health staff was clearly overwhelmed in a hospital that lacked water and electricity, and where the morgue was packed. Many of the health-care workers may have had contact with infected patients.
MSF will first establish an isolation unit in the hospital, where infected people will be treated, and train staff on strict bio-security measures. Activities will include outreach to the community in order to detect new cases, separating suspected and confirmed cases, providing palliative care in the isolation unit, and assisting in burials.
A WHO team in Uige will be in charge of epidemiological surveillance to track the epidemic. Starting Wednesday, MSF will run a mobile laboratory under the supervision of the WHO. More material and human resources to reinforce the team will arrive in the coming days.
In the capital, Luanda, where six confirmed cases of Marburg fever have resulted in three deaths, another MSF team is establishing an isolation unit and four control units in the University Hospital. WHO is doing active case finding and tracing people who may have been in contact with infected individuals.
In Cabinda province, an Angolan enclave in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a pregnant woman from Uige has died of Marburg fever. For the time being, though, no cases of contamination have been registered outside Uige.