Three of the eight confirmed cases are receiving treatment even as 161 contacts are being monitored, according to the WHO.
Tanzania has confirmed eight cases of Marburg, a high-fatality viral haemorrhagic fever with broadly similar symptoms to Ebola, in its first-ever outbreak, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO said in a statement on Tuesday evening that the confirmation from Tanzania’s national public laboratory follows the deaths of five people in the northwestern region of Kagera who developed symptoms including fever, vomiting, bleeding and kidney failure.
Among the dead was a health worker, the WHO said. The three survivors were receiving treatment, with 161 contacts being followed up.
“The efforts made by the Tanzanian health authorities to establish the cause of the disease are a clear indication of the determination to respond effectively to the outbreak,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“We are working with the government to rapidly scale up control measures to stop the spread of the virus.”
With a mortality rate of up to 88%, Marburg belongs to the same virus family responsible for Ebola and is transmitted to people by fruit bats. It then spreads through contact with the bodily fluids of infected people.
Symptoms include high fever, severe headache and malaise that usually develop within seven days of infection, according to the WHO.
Tanzania’s outbreak comes a month after Equatorial Guinea confirmed its very first epidemic Marburg virus disease as well. WHO enhanced monitoring in the Central African country, deploying health emergency experts in epidemiology, case management, infection prevention, laboratory and risk communication to strengthen the country’s response.