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Tanzania declares end of Marburg virus outbreak

The ministry of Health in Tanzania has officially declared the end of the country's first documented outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD), which was initially declared in March.

The World Health Organization (WHO) shared a statement confirming that a total of eight cases of viral hemorrhagic fever were reported, all from the Bukoba district in the Kagera region.

During the outbreak, six deaths were reported, leading Uganda to reactivate screening at its main border points to prevent the spread of the disease.

The declaration of the end of the outbreak aligns with WHO recommendations, which state that an outbreak can be declared over 42 days after the last possible exposure to a confirmed case.  

The last confirmed case of MVD was reported on April 11, 2023, with the second negative PCR test sample collected on April 19, 2023. Although Tanzania has been declared disease-free, WHO urges authorities to maintain response activities for an additional three months. This is to ensure immediate detection in case of a re-emergence of the disease, prevent its spread, and save lives.

MVD is an epidemic-prone illness associated with high fatality rates, ranging from 30 to 90 per cent. It is caused by the same viral family, Filoviridae, as Ebola virus disease and exhibits similar clinical symptoms. Early diagnosis of MVD can be challenging as its clinical presentation overlaps with other febrile illnesses such as Ebola, malaria, and typhoid fever.

The outbreak of Marburg in Tanzania in March caused concern in Uganda, which had recently dealt with an Ebola emergency in January.

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