Marburg haemorrhagic fever in Angola – update 19
18 May 2005
As of 17 May, the Ministry of Health in Angola has reported 337 cases of Marburg haemorrhagic fever. Of these cases, 311 were fatal. The vast majority of cases have occurred in Uige Province, where 326 cases and 300 deaths have been reported. No cases have been reported outside Uige for the past five weeks.
Infrastructures and protocols for controlling the outbreak are in place and functioning well. The isolation unit at Uige’s provincial hospital is being used, infection control in the hospital has improved, and safe burial practices are now being followed. Portable field laboratories continue to provide rapid diagnostic support. A campaign to stop home treatment of patients using unsafe injections has resulted in the collection and safe disposal of a large number of needles and syringes. The campaign, which has been supported by religious and community leaders and volunteers from the local Red Cross, is thought to have raised public awareness of the associated risks considerably.
Support from religious and community leaders has also allowed the work of mobile surveillance teams to run more smoothly, increasing the efficiency of case finding and contact tracing. However, some new cases continue to be linked to exposure in homes and at funerals, indicating that public understanding of the disease still needs to be improved.
As transmission of the virus requires close personal contact with an ill or recently deceased patient, the risk to international travellers to Angola is considered to be very low. WHO does not recommend any restrictions on travel or trade to or from Angola.