Uganda on high alert over Marburg outbreak at Tanzania border

Uganda has ordered for immediate screening and testing at its southern border following an outbreak of Marburg virus that has killed five people in Bukoba, Tanzania.

The disease, whose victims present symptoms such as fever, vomiting, bleeding in various parts of the body openings, flu and diarrhoea, has also infected seven other people in the area, which is closer to the Ugandan border.

Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, yesterday said screening and testing is being done at Kasensero and Mutukula border points.

“The Ministry of Health is ready on high alert. Risk assessments are being done in the area. We are also doing targeted communication in the area,” Mr Ainebyoona said.

The disease, which broke out in two villages in Bukoba and Kagera a few days ago, was only confirmed to be Marburg virus by the Tanzanian authorities yesterday.

“Our public health laboratory results have confirmed that this disease is caused by Marburg virus,” Tanzania health minister Ummy Mwalimu said.

Mr Ainebyoona said the mobile testing equipment that was used in Mubende District to test for Ebola is being transferred to Kyotera District.

“The symptoms of the disease in Tanzania are related or similar to the diseases known to us. We have to carry out cross-border surveillance,” he said.

The ministers of health will also visit the Uganda-Tanzania border to assess the testing and the preparedness of the health teams on Friday.

The Tanzanian ministry has issued preventive guidelines, urging the public to maintain high standards of hygiene and also avoid direct contact with human waste of the affected people.

Since the outbreak of the contagious disease, Kenya’s health ministry has also issued guidelines to ensure that there is enhanced screening of travellers, who are arriving from the affected region.

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