Uganda, which is not culturally or medically equipped to deal with such an outbreak, is now dealing with multiple cases of an Ebola-like virus called MVD in a border region near Kenya. By WHO



As health officials struggle to contain this year’s plague outbreak in Madagascar, the World Health Organization is now warning of an outbreak of an Ebola-like virus with no known cure on the African mainland.

Marburg Viral Disease, or MVD as it is known, is lethal in up to 90 percent of cases. An outbreak of the disease was detected in a region in eastern Uganda near the border with Kenya late last month, and had already killed one person by the time the WHO made its initial announcement:

The first case was detected by the Ministry of Health on 17 October, a 50-year-old woman who died at a health centre of fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea on 11 October. Laboratory testing at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) confirmed the cause of death as MVD.

The woman’s brother had also died of similar symptoms three weeks earlier and was buried at a traditional funeral. He worked as a game hunter and lived near a cave inhabited by Rousettus bats, which are natural hosts of the Marburg virus.
A second warning from the WHO’s Africa regional office, attributed to Technical Coordinator for Emergencies Dr. Zabulon Yoti reads:

Uganda map. The areas in green have been contaminated by Ebola virus

Community engagement is the cornerstone of emergency response. Work with the communities to build their capacity for success and sustainability. This way, teams will be able to not only build local capacity but also better understand their cultures and traditions especially with regard to issues pertaining to safe and acceptable burials. Response activities should be adapted in accordance with the local context.

The WHO has had to combat local misunderstanding of how the virus spreads, which has led to claims of witchcraft, and how it is to be treated. Use of the phrase “isolation room,” for instance, has been deemed culturally unacceptable.