210 dead from Marburg haemorrhagic fever in Angola
Apr 14, 2005 - 4:12:38 PM

As of 11 April, 231 cases of Marburg haemorrhagic fever have been reported in Angola. Of these cases, 210 have died. Uige Province, with 202 cases and 190 deaths, remains the most severely affected area.

The present outbreak of Marburg haemorrhagic fever is unprecedented in its size and urban nature, and its dimensions are still unfolding. Although surveillance to detect cases has improved, it remains patchy. In Uige, where daily mobile teams are active, surveillance continues to be largely concentrated on the investigation of deaths and collection of bodies. The security of teams remains a concern. More vehicles are needed and WHO is making the necessary arrangements on an urgent basis.

To bring the outbreak under control, the detection and isolation of patients needs to be much earlier, but this will not happen until the public understands the disease and the high risks associated with treating patients in homes. Infection control needs to improve in heath care settings, and WHO is continuing to supply effective personal protective equipment, for both national and international staff, adapted to conditions in African countries.

A welcome development is the decision by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to strengthen its presence in Uige. Volunteers from these societies are part of a group of workers mobilized to conduct a door-to-door public information and education campaign in collaboration with community and church leaders and traditional healers. Today, workers received specialized training from experts in social mobilization and medical anthropology drawn from the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. These workers have been rapidly deployed to deliver public talks at markets and schools.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has extensive experience in responding to emergencies in Africa and has been instrumental in bringing large outbreaks of Ebola under control. Because of this experience, workers from the Federation are usually viewed by communities as welcome help. WHO anticipates that this added and welcome support to response activities will help create greater acceptance of control measures and reduce high-risk behaviours.

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