Kenya braces for MVD outbreak

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it is assisting the Kenyan Ministry of Health to combat an outbreak of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD), which spread to the country from neighbouring Uganda.

MVD has a fatality rate of around 50 per cent, and though early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment can improve survival rates, the disease poses a serious threat to Kenya. The outbreak in Uganda was officially declared on 19 October. Although there have been no confirmed cases in Kenya, the Ministry of Health has set up a national task force to co-ordinate all rapid response activities, including WHO, the Kenya Red Cross Society, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and UNICEF. WHO also reported that several joint teams have been deployed to conduct risk assessments and initiate contact tracing and surveillance in Trans Nzoia and West Pokot.

“We can save lives if sick people are identified early. Together with the Ministry of Health, we are actively looking for suspected cases and following up on their contacts,” said Dr Rudi Eggers, WHO representative in Kenya. “WHO staff in both Uganda and Kenya are co-ordinating cross-border response activities including surveillance, contact tracing and active case search. This is key to breaking the chain of transmission and containing the outbreak.”

WHO has delivered 300 kits of personal protective equipment, with an additional 2,000 due to arrive soon.