- Angola still struggles to get in control of the deadliest ever outbreak of the Marburg haemorrhagic fever. The World Health Organisation (WHO) now urges Angolan authorities to make "stronger efforts" to break the chain of Marburg disease transmission in the country. As of this week, the Ministry of Health in Angola has reported 266 cases of Marburg fever. Of these cases, 239 were fatal.
According to the WHO, however, "significant progress" had been made lately in increasing the engagement of affected communities in Angola against the worst outbreak on record of deadly Marburg fever. But efforts now needed to be intensified to rapidly isolate cases and follow up on contacts, the UN health agency warned.
Public understanding of the disease and participation in the outbreak response remain the most important factors for successful control, the WHO said in its latest update on the Ebola-like haemorrhagic disease, which is spread by close contact such as exposure to the blood and other bodily fluids of victims, and for which there is no vaccine or treatment.
Activities needed to prevent further infection within hospitals were "well under way," while protective gloves, soap and instructions on the importance of their use had been provided to traditional healers and midwives to help curb transmission of the disease, which has already proved fatal in 239 of the 266 cases so far reported, mostly within just a few weeks.
Marburg is a relative of the equally deadly but better-known Ebola and which begins with severe diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and chest and lung pains and progresses to severe haemorrhage in the gastrointestinal tract and lungs. The previous worst outbreak of Marburg occurred in the Congo Kinshasa (DRC) and took two years to claim 149 cases, 123 of them fatal, from 1998 to 2000.
With cases and deaths continuing to occur within the community and health teams reporting that some families caring for victims at home are administering injections - "a high-risk practice that can perpetuate transmission" - educational messages were being added to information already being provided, WHO said.
A team of 28 Angolan health care professionals, assembled by the government, had today arrived in the Uige province - where most cases are registered - to provide further support to control activities. The team had been assigned to work on infection control, surveillance for new cases, and the tracing and management of contacts, and were being trained and equipped for these tasks.
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