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Republic of Tanzania declares Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) Outbreak

March 22, 2023

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 22 March 2023: On 21 March 2023, the Ministry of Health (MoH) of Republic of Tanzania declared an outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD) in Bukoba district, Kagera region, north western Tanzania. Cumulatively, eight confirmed cases and five deaths, including a health care worker have been reported (case fatality rate: 63%), while three are undergoing treatment at designated treatment centres. Cases presented with fever, vomiting and bleeding from different body orifices. Samples collected tested positive by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at the National Public Health Laboratory.

This is the first time a confirmed case of MVD is reported in Tanzania. Kagera region is located in north-western Tanzania and is bordered by Uganda to the north, Rwanda to the west and Burundi to the south-west. The high population mobility within the region poses a risk of cross-border spread.

MVD is a highly fatal, zoonotic haemorrhagic disease caused by the Marburg virus. Human-to-human transmission occurs through direct contact with body fluids from infected persons, or contact with equipment and other materials contaminated with infectious blood or tissues, body fluids of infected people, and contaminated surfaces or materials. Although neither licensed vaccine nor approved treatment for MVD is available, supportive management improves survival. Existing infection prevention and control protocols for Ebola and other viral hemorrhagic fevers can be used to prevent transmission of MVD.

“Africa CDC remains committed to support Tanzania and her neighbours to arrest this outbreak as soon as possible. We urge members of the public to continue sharing information in a timely manner with the authorities to enable a most effective response. These emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases are a sign that the health security of the continent needs to be strengthened to cope with the disease threats.” – Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Ag Director of Africa CDC.

The Ministry of Health has deployed rapid response teams to support further investigations. A total of 161 contacts have been identified and are being monitored. In addition, active case search, case management and risk communication are ongoing in affected communities.

The Africa CDC is immediately deploying a team of experts to Tanzania to support response efforts in the country. Africa CDC has also engaged the Ministry of Health of Tanzania to understand the cross-border context of the outbreak as this would guide regional surveillance strategies in containing the outbreak. Currently, two African Union Member States (Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania) are reporting active MVD outbreaks.

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About Africa CDC

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is a continental autonomous Public Health agency of the African Union which supports Member States in their efforts to strengthen health systems and improve surveillance, emergency response, prevention and control of diseases. The Africa CDC mission is to strengthen Africa’s public health institution’s capacities, capabilities and partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks based on science, policy, and data-driven interventions and programmes. Learn more at: http://www.africacdc.org

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