HCMC to monitor arrivals from Africa amid deadly Marburg outbreaks

By My Y   March 31, 2023 | 06:20 pm PT
HCMC to monitor arrivals from Africa amid deadly Marburg outbreaks
World Health Organization officials examine the home of a suspected Marburg virus victim in the northern Angolan town of Uige in 2022. Photo by Reuters
The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has ordered screening of people arriving from African countries with outbreaks of Marburg, the highly contagious and deadly hemorrhagic viral fever.

The order comes after a Ministry of Health warning about the disease, which has a 50-88% death rate and which has killed dozens of people in Africa.

Vietnam has classified the disease in group A, which includes dangerous diseases that need proactive preventive measures such as Covid-19, Ebola and bird flu.

The city government has instructed districts to prepare monitoring and treatment measures and quarantine suspected cases to contain the virus’ spread.

Medical facilities need to investigate the contact history of patients with symptoms such as high fever, headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, and bleeding, it said.

WHO has said Marburg is caused by a virus from the same family as the one that causes Ebola. Both diseases are rare, but can cause dramatic outbreaks with high fatality, and there is currently no specific treatment or vaccine for them.

Two large outbreaks that occurred simultaneously in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, and in Belgrade, now Serbia, in 1967, led to the initial recognition of the disease. The outbreak was associated with laboratory work using African green monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) imported from Uganda.

This week, the CDC urged travelers to Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania, which are facing their first known outbreaks of Marburg virus, to avoid contact with sick people and to watch for symptoms for three weeks after leaving the area.

As of March 22 Equatorial Guinea had 13 confirmed cases, including nine people who have died and one who has recovered, while Tanzania, on the east African coast, has had eight confirmed cases, including five deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

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