KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — One Ugandan has died of Marburg, a highly infectious disease that, like Ebola, manifests as a viral hemorrhagic fever, Uganda's health minister said Thursday.
Tests on a 50-year-old woman who died Oct. 17 came back positive for Marburg, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng told reporters Thursday.
The Marburg victim, who lived in eastern Uganda, had looked after a brother who died in September after falling ill with similar signs and symptoms, she said.
"The deceased's brother was reported to be a hunter who carried out his activities where there are caves with heavy presence of bats," she said in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. "However, no samples were taken off his body prior to his death."
Marburg "has the potential to spread over wide areas, affecting many people, especially health workers and family members nursing Marburg" patients, she said.
Marburg outbreaks start when an infected animal, such as a monkey or a fruit bat, passes the virus to a human. The virus then spreads from human to human by contact with an infected person's body fluids.
Marburg symptoms include muscle pains and bleeding through body openings like eyes and ears. There is no drug or vaccine for Marburg, which belongs to the same viral family as Ebola.
Uganda has faced outbreaks of hemorrhagic fevers before, including an Ebola outbreak in 2000 that killed more than 200 people over several weeks.
Later outbreaks, including a Marburg one in 2014, were successfully contained within days and killed far fewer people.