KIGALI, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Public health workers and local leaders in eastern Rwanda's Kirehe District bordering Tanzania are working together to heighten surveillance measures at the Rusumo common border, following an outbreak of Marburg virus disease in Tanzania's northwest Kagera region, officials said Friday.
Bruno Rangira, the Kirehe District mayor, said they have ramped up preparedness involving public awareness campaigns on Marburg signs and symptoms, prevention measures as well as plans for managing suspected cases.
"Public awareness is being carried out by health officials and local leaders targeting residents, including the border community and travelers traveling to Tanzania," Rangira told a news briefing at the district.
Rangira called on grassroots officials and residents to play their role in preventing the disease outbreak in the country.
"We have enhanced readiness for the possibility of a virus outbreak, including setting aside isolation rooms at the district hospital and at the border," Jean Claude Munyemana, the head of Kirehe Hospital, told Xinhua.
Health personnel who used to screen for COVID-19 have been empowered to screen travelers for Marburg virus signs, he said.
Tanzania's Ministry of Health on Tuesday declared the first outbreak of the deadly disease in the country, which has killed five people, with three others admitted to hospitals.
Edson Rwagasore, the division manager of public health surveillance and emergency at Rwanda Biomedical Center, confirmed that though there is no probable or confirmed case of Marburg virus disease in the country, the Ministry of Health saw it important to enhance surveillance at points of entry.
Marburg virus is in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola and is a highly virulent disease that causes hemorrhagic fever, with a fatality ratio of up to 88 percent. Illness caused by the Marburg virus presents abruptly, with high fever, severe headache and severe malaise.
Many patients develop severe hemorrhagic symptoms within seven days, and vaccines or antiviral treatments to treat the virus are yet to be approved. The virus is transmitted to humans from fruit bats and spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people, surfaces and materials. ■