UN expert warns of Marburg virus

The outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus in Angola is worse than Ebola, a UN disease expert has said.

    The worst outbreak of the Ebola virus was in Uganda

    "Marburg is a very bad haemorrhagic fever, even worse than

    Ebola," said Allarangar Yokouibd from the UN World Health

    Organisation (WHO) on Friday.

    "We have had several Ebola epidemics in the region but none with

    such a high mortality rate," he said at a news conference

    in Luanda.

    In Geneva, the WHO said the world's worst outbreak of the

    virus was not under control.

    Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's emergency response unit, said

    international agencies and local health authorities must remain

    firmly engaged in Angola for the next four to six weeks, adding that

    the situation in Angola was not yet under control.

    Emergency appeal

    The world body on Friday launched an emergency appeal for $3.5

    million to intensify the fight against

    the outbreak - recorded as the largest ever recorded and still

    growing.

    "It is clear that this epidemic is unprecedented not only in

    Angola, but everywhere. It is the biggest epidemic of haemorrhagic

    fever so far"

    Pierre-Francois Pirlot,
    UN's co-ordinator in Angola

    "The appeal for $3.5 million will enable UN agencies,

    including the WHO, Unicef and the WFP to support the Angolan

    government intensifying outbreak control efforts," said the UN's

    resident co-ordinator in Angola, Pierre-Francois Pirlot.

    "It is clear that this epidemic is unprecedented not only in

    Angola, but everywhere. It is the biggest epidemic of haemorrhagic

    fever so far," he said.

    Most of the victims come from the northern town of Uige, the

    centre of the outbreak about 300km north of

    the seaboard capital, Luanda. About 200 cases had been reported since

    the outbreak began in October.

    "The victims included nine health workers, seven nurses and two

    doctors," said Angolan Vice Health Minister Jose Van Dunem.

    Fear

    Fear has gripped the capital and the country of 14 million

    people, which emerged three years ago from a brutal 27-year civil

    war.

    The Marburg virus, whose exact origin is unknown,

    spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, excrement,

    vomit and saliva, and can be contained with relatively simple health

    precautions, according to experts.

    Yokouibd said the disease was transmitted

    through contact with all bodily fluids, including the sweat and

    tears of a sick person. He stressed it was not

    an airborne disease.

    He said the worst outbreak of Ebola, in the same family as

    Marburg, was in Uganda, where 404 cases were reported at the end

    of the outbreak.

    SOURCE: AFP


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