The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Marburg virus disease in Uganda

Updated November 14, 2017

Updated: November 06, 2017

Original posting date : November 06 2017
What is Marburg virus disease?
Marburg virus disease (MVD) is a severe illness that can be fatal. It is caused by the Marburg virus, which is similar to the virus that causes Ebola virus disease.

The Marburg virus causes haemorrhagic fever in humans, which affects many organs, damages blood vessels, and affects the body’s ability to regulate itself.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of Marburg can include high-grade fever, chills, headache and muscle pain. As the disease progresses, symptoms become more severe, with some people experiencing severe bleeding (hemorrhaging) and death.

How can you become infected with Marburg Virus Disease ?
Marburg virus is transmitted to humans through contact with fruit bats when visiting mines or caves . Tourists and travellers should keep this in mind when visiting places like the Mount Elgon bat caves, or interacting with other wild animals.

The Marburg virus can then spread from person to person through contact with:

body fluids from someone who is or has been infected with the Marburg virus
bodies of peoples who died of Marburg
medical equipment and personal belongings contaminated with infected body fluids
What is the situation in Uganda?
On October 20, 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed an outbreak of Marburg virus disease in the remote eastern Kween district of Uganda. This district is found on the border of Kenya and 300 kilometres northeast of Kampala. For information related to this outbreak, see the WHO’s disease outbreak news.

The last outbreak of Marburg virus disease in Uganda was in 2014.

There is no vaccine or medication that protects against Marburg virus disease.

How can you protect yourself from Marburg virus disease?
Before your trip:

Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

During your trip:

If you travel to Mount Elgon bat caves :

avoid exposure to bats
wear gloves and protective clothing including masks
If you travel to the Kween district in Uganda:

Avoid contact with the body fluids of people with Marburg virus disease or unknown illnesses.
Avoid contact with bodies of people who died of Marburg virus disease or unknown illnesses.
Avoid contact with medical equipment, such as needles, and personal belongings that may have been contaminated with body fluids of people with Marburg virus disease or other unknown illnesses.
Avoid unprotected sexual activity with an infected person or a person recovering from Marburg virus disease. The virus can persist for an extended period of time in the semen of infected males and possibly vaginal secretions of infected females.
Health care workers should practise strict infection control measures including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (i.e., gowns, masks, goggles and gloves) when providing care for suspect or confirmed cases of Marburg virus disease.
Avoid close contact with or handling of animals.

Avoid live or dead animals, as both can spread the virus. Animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, pigs, porcupines, duikers and fruit bats may be carriers.
Avoid handling raw or undercooked meat.
Avoid consuming any bush meat (meat from animals caught in the wild).
Practise strict hand washing routines.

After your trip:

Monitor your health when returning from Uganda:

If you notice symptoms of Marburg virus disease during the flight, tell the flight attendant or the border services officer as you enter the country. They will notify a quarantine officer who can assess the symptoms.
See a health care provider immediately if you develop symptoms within three weeks following your return.
Alert the health care provider about your symptoms before your appointment, so they can take proper precautions.
Tell the health care provider that you have travelled to a region where Marburg virus disease was present.
If you are concerned that you are infected, it is important to limit your contact with others as much as possible until you can be assessed by the health care provider.
Registration of Canadians Abroad
Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home .

Related links
Assistance – sickness or injury
Returning to Canada – if you get sick
Country advice and advisories
Registration of Canadians Abroad
Other Resources
World Health organization: News release
World Health Organization: Emergencies preparedness response
World Health Organization: Marburg fact sheet

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Share this page
Date modified: 2017-04-05