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Marburg Spreads to Kwanza Sol as Death Toll Mounts

Recombinomics Commentary

April 5, 2005

>> Angola's Marburg epidemic, which has claimed 155 lives, is not under control and the country urgently needs protective clothing for health workers battling the deadly virus, a U.N. official said on Tuesday.

With a mortality rate of 88 percent and nine new cases reported since Sunday -- bringing the total to 175 -- efforts to spread information about Marburg were more urgent than ever, Mario Ferrari, UNICEF chief in Angola told Reuters.

"I wouldn't say (the situation) is under control. But I'm very confident, if I look at the mobilisation of technical resources, the brains that came here and the energy that the (health) ministry is putting into that fight, that things will be improved," he said in an interview. <<

The Marburg virus continues to spread and there are still no reports of any discharges.  Therefore, the mortality rate of 88% cited above is in error.  The mortality rate is based on known outcomes and the only known outcomes are the first 155 Marburg cases, which are all dead.  Thus the mortality rate remains at 100%.

Citing a mortality rate of 88% is misleading because the number of diagnosed patients that are alive is increasing because the spread is accelerating.  New patients are being diagnosed faster than older patients can die.  The jump in the spread from 5-8 last week, to 20 yesterday, indicates that the number dying per day will also rise.  The 88% would be correct only if the 20 alive survive, and there is no data suggesting that the death rate will fall from 100% to 0%.  Most or all of the 20 patients that are still alive will be dead in the next several days.

Meanwhile the deaths have now spread to a fifth province, Kwanza Sol, which is in addition to Kwanza Norte, Malange, Luanda, and Cabinda.  Within Uige cases have been found in Uige City, Negage, Songo, Damba, and Maquela do Zombo.

This geographical spread suggests the spread between the number of deaths and diagnosed patients will continue to widen.

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