As of 9 April, 214 cases of Marburg haemorrhagic fever have been reported in Angola. Of these, 194 have died. Uige Province remains the epicentre of the outbreak, accounting for almost 90% of the cases and deaths.
However, the situation is probably much worse than even that grim assessment would indicate. Dr. Henry Niman says the World Health Organization is downplaying the numbers and the seriousness of this outbreak:
WHO’s track record in Angola is less than ideal. The WHO has consistently underplayed the seriousness of the outbreak. They did not view the situation seriously until health care workers were infected about a month ago. They then stated that the number of infected patients was too high because cases had been mis-diagnosed.
[I]nitial reports indicated that Marburg was milder than Ebola and had a case fatality rate around 25%. […] WHO knows that there are few if any survivors and the fatality rate is close to 100%.
Now WHO is continuing to ignore the fact that Marburg is transmitting in densely populated slums of Luanda. If the only two cases WHO has been able to confirm in Luanda are the two victims who died on March 26, then WHO should explicitly state that as of March 26 there was no evidence of transmission in Luanda.
To repeatedly state that there are only two confirmed cases in Luanda is at best misleading and clearly scandalous, either because the confirmation process lags the cases on the ground by over two weeks, or because the media is allowed to publish misleading information on a daily basis without comment from WHO.
Remember those words: “The fatality rate is close to 100%.”
If the disease has reached the capital city of Angola, we have two problems: The “densely populated” urban setting makes transmission easier, and the proximity to an airport means the possibility of the disease spreading to other countries is very real.
This is serious. Marburg has a 5-7 day incubation period. All it takes is one person on an international flight.
Have you seen this story on television yet?