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Is Marburg Transmitting in Johannesburg South Africa?

Recombinomics Commentary

April 7, 2005

>> New fears were expressed on Thursday that the Marburg virus had reached South African soil when a child in Morningside Clinic in Johannesburg showed symptoms of the infection.

Steps have been taken to prepare provincial hospitals in case haemorrhagic fever is diagnosed.

Solly Mabotha, spokesperson of the national health department, said isolation wards had been prepared in hospitals in all nine provinces and health practitioners had been thoroughly briefed on the symptoms of haemorrhagic fever.

The deadly virus has killed 159 people in Angola, so far, and a man is believed to have died of it in South Africa.

Mabotha said the child "has ties with Angola".

He said, however, that a thorough investigation had indicated that she did not show symptoms of the untreatable haemorrhagic fever, which is caused by the Marburg virus.

There is no laboratory in South Africa that can perform tests for the Marburg virus, it was learned on Thursday.  <<

Samples from both patients were sent to the CDC for testing.  There seems to be a misconception on treatment.  There is no treatment for the virus, so progression to hemorrhaging is not an indicator of prospects for recovery.  So far in Angola, the case fatality rate is at or near 100% regardless of when the patient is admitted.  Early signs of infection are not very specific, but if the early signs are signaling Marburg, the prognosis is poor, especially if the infection was in Angola.

If the child is positive, there would be contact issues with passengers on the plane if the child recently arrived from Angola.  If the child was infected in South Africa, then there would be contact issues with whoever recently arrived from Angola.

As the numbers increase in Angola, especially in Luanda, it will become increasingly difficult to avoid exporting the virus via passengers leaving Luanda.  The movement out of Uige seems to have spread the virus quite widely, and the infected cases in Angola have exploded to 200.

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