• A deadly disease affecting human was reported in two villages (Maruku and Kanyangereko) of Bukoba district in Kagera, Tanzania on 16th March 2023.
  • Kagera region is located in north-western Tanzania and is bordered by Uganda to the north, Rwanda to the west and Burundi to the south-west.
  • The disease was reported from one household which was visited by a relative who travelled from Goziba island.
  • Four people contracted the disease from the person who visited them and started shown clinical signs few days after arrival in the household.
  • Also two health workers who attended the patients contracted the disease.
  • Five people died including a health health worker out of the eight individuals who were confirmed to have the disease (case fatality rate: 63%). About 205 individuals are under contact tracing through monitoring a display of any symptoms.
  • Efforts to investigate the causative agent of the disease was immediately initiated by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania with efforts to contain the disease.
  • It took five days for the country to identify the causative agent and the disease. The disease was diagnosed to be Marburg virus disease (MVD) caused Marburg virus. The detection of the virus was done by the National Public Health Laboratory of Tanzania.
  • WHO is working closely with Tanzania to make sure that they rapidly scale up control measures to halt the spread of the virus.
  • This is the first time a confirmed case of MVD is reported in Tanzania.
  • Marburg virus disease is a highly fatal, zoonotic haemorrhagic disease reported for the first time in August 1967 in Marburg and Frankfurt, in Germany, and in Belgrade (then in Yugoslavia, now in Serbia).
  • Geographical distribution: The disease has been reported mostly in Africa: Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, and most recently Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania. Outbreaks outside Africa have been in Europe and the USA. So far in Tanzania, the disease is only restricted in Kagera region.
  • Causative agent: Murburg virus disease is caused by Murburg virus, a genetically unique zoonotic (or, animal-borne) single-stranded, negative-sense RNA virus of the Marburgvirus genus and filoviridae family. Murburg virus cause disease in human and non-human primates. The genus Marburgvirus contains two known marburgviruses members, the Marburg virus (MARV) and Ravn virus (RAVV). The other known members of the filoviridae family are the six species of Ebola virus  which cause Ebola virus disease (EVD) and Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), a viral hemorrhagic fever in humans and other primates.

  • Transmission: The virus is commonly transmitted to humans from the African fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) and the spread from human to human is through direct contact with bodily fluids (such as blood and secretions) of infected people, surfaces, and materials (like beddings).
  • Symptoms of MVD – start suddenly and include high fever, severe headache, intense malaise, chills, muscle ache, vomiting, bleeding and renal failure.


Sources for further reading

  1. The next pandemic: Marburg?
  2. Tanzania: Marburg virus outbreak kills 5
  3. Republic of Tanzania declares Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) Outbreak
  4. Tanzania confirms first-ever outbreak of deadly Marburg Virus Disease
  5. Five dead as Tanzania detects first-ever Marburg virus outbreak
  6. Tanzania announces outbreak of deadly Marburg virus disease
  7. Marburg (Marburg Virus Disease)