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Marburg Deaths in Angola Jump to 311

Recombinomics Commentary
May 18, 2005

>>  "I was scared about the personal threat. Whenever anyone died I would go into their hut. I was dressed in a spacesuit with three pairs of gloves and a mask. People would be walking in front, spraying everything with bleach.

"I would take a swab from the dead person's cheek and then walk out. <<

The above commentary is similar to earlier media reports describing collection of samples from deceased Marburg victims.  The sample collector is frightened, dressed in a spacesuit, and collecting single samples for testing.  Usually multiple samples are collected, because false negatives are common among clinical samples collected for PCR testing.

In many instances, it seems that a single negative lab test excludes suspect Marburg victims from being listed as a reported case.  Moreover, most of the cases outside of Uige and many inside Uige are subsequently discarded, even though the deceased patient had Marburg symptoms.

This discarding of previously reported fatal cases has slowed the increasing tally.  In the May 17 Minister of Health report there were 3 new cases and 3 new deaths on May 16, but 2 of the reported cases were also discarded that day.  After the administrative reduction, the number of cases was at 337 with 294 deaths.  The differential of 43 was near the record for the current outbreak.  However, the WHO numbers for the following day had the same number of reported cases, but the number of deaths rose to 311, reducing the differential to 26.  It seems unlikely that 17 reported former cases died on the same day, so the jump is likely to be more administrative juggling of the numbers.

The geographical distribution of reported cases within the province of Uige has grown recently to include Buengas, Milunga, and Bembe, but like reported cases and deaths outside if Uige, these may be removed by future administrative adjustments.

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