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Marburg Death Rate in Angola Close to 100%

Recombinomics Commentary
March 27, 2005

>> The Marburg virus first broke out in the northern Uige province in October and has killed 121 people so far. The virus causes fever, vomiting and bleeding.

The Angola health minister said the situation was 'critical.' Besides those dead a similar number are in hospital being treated for the disease. <<

The above comment on the number of patients in the hospital is a misconception in many of the media reports.  Marburg virus is killing over 90% of those infected.  The number of known cases in the hospital is small, because over 90% of those infected have died.  If there were 132 infected patients in the hospital, 20 to 40 per day would be dying.  Instead, only a handful is admitted each day, and a handful are dying each day, because most of those infected have already died.

As noted in the WHO announcement of March 23, 2005 after the Marburg virus was identified: "Retrospective analysis has now identified 102 cases in the outbreak, which dates back to October 2004. Of these cases, 95 have been fatal."  Thus, the fatality rate based on those numbers is 93%.  However, the true rate is near 100%, because the latest cases have not been sick long enough to die.

There have been no recent reports of any Marburg infected patients in Angola who have recovered.  Those still alive are still in the hospital.  The latest numbers indicate 121 out of 132 have died. That means there is only a handful who have been diagnosed with Marburg and are still alive.  It does not mean 132 are still in the hospital being treated.

Patients have only been living a few days in the hospital.  The daily death toll would be markedly higher if there were 132 hospitalized patients infected with the Ebola-like Marburg virus.

The virus has also taken a toll on healthcare workers.  Six nurses and two physicians have died, as they try to treat patients, but lack basic barriers such as gloves, gowns, and masks.

Marburg also appears to have been transmitted in Angola's capital, Luanda, which has an international airport, raising concerns of further spread.

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