Global Alert and Response (GAR)

2000 - Viral haemorrhaigc fever/Marburg in Democratic Republic of Congo - Update 11

21 March 2000

Disease Outbreak Reported

On 13 March WHO received notifications of possible Marburg haemorrhagic fever in 8 persons from Durba, Province Orientale, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Clinical samples from 6 patients have been sent to National Institute for Virology, (NIV), South Africa, and thus far, 3 have been confirmed positive by virological tests. Initial tests on the 3 other samples were negative, but other tests are still in progress. The availability of samples from the 2 other cases is not known at this time.

Since November 1999, there have been 30 notifications of possible Marburg disease from the vicinity of Durba. Twelve of these were negative after extensive laboratory tests, [see Update 9] leaving a current total of 18 cases: 11 of which are confirmed, and 7 of which are currently classified as suspect cases because no sample was available (2), the status of samples is unknown (2), or results are pending (3). Illness has proved fatal in 8 confirmed cases and in 4 suspect cases. Dates of illness onset for the 30 notifications range from 9 November 1999 to 7 March 2000. Disease onset dates for confirmed cases range from 8 January to 24 February 2000. The confirmed cases worked as gold miners (6), housewives (3), a farmer and a nurse.

Disease activity is clearly still continuing in the area, and appears to be linked to the gold mine in Durba. Surveillance is continuing, but the security situation in the area and poor communications and transport mean that information is only available intermittently. The situation is being closely monitored by the WHO country offices in Kinshasa and Kampala, the WHO African Regional Office in Harare and WHO Headquarters in Geneva.

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