Deadly virus outbreak in Uganda

Have you ever seen the movie Outbreak? Did it scare the living bejesus out of you? Then stop reading. Uganda is reporting an outbreak of the deadly Marburg Virus. It's like Ebola, but is antigenetically distinct. Whatever the hell that means.

Here's a shopping list of Marburg symptoms:

The disease is spread through bodily fluids, including blood, excrement, saliva, and vomit. Early symptoms are often non-specific, and usually include fever, headache and myalgia after an incubation period of 3-9 days.. After five days, a macropaular rash is often present on the trunk. Later-stage Marburg infection is acute and can include jaundice, pancreatitis, weight loss, delirium and neuropsychiatric symptoms, hemorrhaging, hypovolemic shock and multi-organ dysfunction with liver failure most common. Accounts of external hemorrhaging from bodily orifices are pervasive in popular references to the disease but are in fact rare. Time course varies but symptoms usually last for one to three weeks until the disease either resolves. The fatality rate is between 23-25%.

So, one in four people infected with Marburg die. Not bad odds, although hypovolemic shock sounds mighty unpleasant. Also nice that hemorraging from orifices is relatively rare.

Good news: Marburg is only passed through bodily fluids. Bad news: viruses have a bad habit of mutating. Additional complication: Uganda has the infrastructure of a neglected sandbox, which makes containment difficult.

Hurray!