Monday, March 28, 2005

A New Hot Zone...

Mr. Atos

The Wall Street Journal today reports that the death toll has peaked 100 in an Angola outbreak of Marburg hemorrhagic fever. Cases have spread from near Congo's border to Luanda. For anyone who hasn't read Preston's terrifying true story accounts, Marburg is closely related Ebola. According to the CDC, the disease was first seen in 1967 in Germany and Yugoslavia when laboratory workers who had been exposed to monkeys imported from Uganda became ill along with family members. And while occurances of the pathogen are rare, this particular occurance has a mortality rate of around 93% according to CIDRAP, making it extremely dangerous; far in excess of the 25% being reported by AFP. Latest sources are reporting this to be the worst outbreak ever recorded. And while three-quarters of the deaths so far have been children under the age of five, according to the WHO, the virus has also started to claim more adult victims including at least seven medical workers and two foreign doctors. The Center For Infectious Disease Research & Policy reports,

There is no vaccine or cure for Marburg fever. Besides fever and weakness, early symptoms include severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, severe chest pain, sore throat, and cough, according to the WHO. The incubation period is 3 to 9 days, and most deaths in the current outbreak have occurred between 3 and 7 days after symptoms appeared, the agency has said. Contact with bodily fluids of infected people increases the risk of infection.

The WHO reports the last outbreak of this disease was in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1998 and 2000, when 123 people died. While this current outbreak is reported to have begun in October of last year, the situation has worsened in the past three weeks with the death toll today reaching 126, and another 132 infected hospitalized.

The World Health Organization has dispatched an outbreak response team to the area to work with local officials and help subdue the crisis.

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