Infections Rise as Marburg Virus Spreads in Angola
April 7, 2005 -- The current outbreak of the Marburg virus in Angola continues to claim lives. Most of the infected and dying are 5 years old and younger.
On April 4, Angola's health ministry confirmed that 146 people had died from this rare hemorrhagic fever that is a relative of the Ebola virus. The last Marburg virus outbreak occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 1998 and 2000, and killed 123 people. The virus is transmitted through bodily fluids and direct person-to-person contact, as well as by handling infected monkeys. It has a five- to 10-day incubation period, and then leads to fever, aches, vomiting, and diarrhea. Ultimately it can lead to bleeding and multiple organ failure.
A recent report from the Institute of Medicine, Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence, Detection, and Response, recommends that the United States should take decisive steps to fortify its public health system to tackle microbes that trigger infectious diseases. It also recommended that U.S. public and private resources should play a significant role in building the capacity of poor countries to monitor, prevent, and respond to disease outbreaks. In the developing world, infectious diseases kill one in every two people.
Additionally, two workshop summaries from last year, Learning From SARS: Preparing for the Next Disease Outbreak and The Threat of Pandemic Influenza: Are We Ready?, examine ways that national and international organizations can work together to prepare for and prevent infectious disease outbreaks as well as their additional social and economic consequences.