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Marburg Virus Spreads to Cabinda Angola as Death Toll Rises

Recombinomics Commentary
March 26, 2005

>>  A health ministry official said a pregnant woman died of the Marburg virus in a hospital in the northern province of Cabinda on Saturday, the first fatality outside the capital Luanda and the province of Uige, bringing the nationwide death toll to 120 in less than six months.

"I can confirm that today (Saturday), a woman died in the hospital in Cabinda from heamorraghic Marburg fever," Filomeno Forte, the head of the health ministry's epidemiology department, told AFP.

"This woman came from Uige, where there had been a death in the family from Marburg. She did not disclose the information when she arrived in Cabinda," located about 500 kilometers (300 miles) west of Uige and 300 kilometers north of Luanda.

"It is the first and only case of Marburg in Cabinda," said Forte. <<

The Marburg virus continues to spread from Uige via visitors, doctors, and patients.  Although there have been no recorded transmissions outside of Uige, the explosion in the number of cases, coupled with infections of health care workers, is cause for concern.

There are now eight fatalities among health care workers and a ninth is infected.  Three nurses died about a week ago, followed by two more nurses on Tuesday.  An Italian pediatrician died on Thursday, followed by a Vietnamese physician on Friday.  A sixth nurse died on Saturday and an Angolan physician is infected.

Basic barriers such as gowns, gloves, and masks are lacking, facilitating the spread of the virus.  There have been three deaths in Luanda, and at least two more infected patients in the capital. 

The death in Cabinda brings the number of geographical regions with infections up to three, and the death toll is up to 120.  The explosion in the number of cases in the past 1-2 weeks will certainly lead to a record number of fatalities for an Ebola-like outbreak.

The incubation period of 3-9 days suggests additional cases will develop in the next 1-2 weeks.

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