Marburg Virus Disease

29 Mar 2023

Marburg Virus Disease

Dear Students, Parents and National Committees,

I am glad so many of you were able to join our call on Monday. Meetings were also held with secondary students on both Moshi and Arusha campuses.

What we know so far

  • The Department of Health and other government offices have been liaising cooperatively with national and international institutions and at this time the Marburg Virus Disease outbreak appears to be contained. We have heard of no further cases since the first report.
  • Whilst there are no travel restrictions (and none suggested by the WHO) in place, the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and its counterparts in neighbouring countries have instituted additional health measures at borders.
  • After the initial eight confirmed cases of Marburg, no further cases have been declared. Of these cases, the index (first) case was a 23 year old fisherman who died on 1 March. Four members of his family (of whom three died, 14/15/16 March) and two healthcare workers who had been treating the family (of whom one has died, 15 March) were also diagnosed. No link has been found between the index case and the eighth case (still living). All three living patients are currently receiving treatment. A further 208 contacts have been identified, located and are under active follow up. As of 24 March, three of these contacts have completed 21 days of follow up with no symptoms.

School response

  • No student or staff member should travel to Kagera or the wider Lake Victoria region unless they are returning home to family for the vacation. Sanctions against individuals ignoring this will be severe.
  • If traveling home to the region around Lake Victoria, students must inform their Head of Residential Life or Head of Campus. Staff will then liaise with parents as required.
  • The greatest risk to students and staff is in secondary infection. Whilst Marburg is not an airborne disease (and therefore unlike Covid in this respect), travelling on public transport is the greatest potential risk.
  • Private vehicles are preferred, then planes, then trains and finally buses. Travel by public bus in Tanzania is generally not advised due to the high number of road accidents and it is advisable to look to use other forms of transport wherever possible.
  • It is possible for a group of people travelling together to hire a bus with a driver privately. Generally, these buses tend to be better maintained and drivers do not drive so quickly.
  • Anyone who cannot travel by private vehicle, plane or train MUST use the following companies:  to Dar: Kilimanjaro Bus 0767213231, BM 0673157761 or Tahmeed 0754085258, to Tanga: Tahmeed 0754085258. The school has established that these travel directly between Arusha/Moshi and the east coast of Tanzania (Tanga, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar).

Whilst an outbreak of Marburg Virus Disease is serious, it is important to reiterate that this outbreak appears to have been well contained. It is not an airborne virus and requires direct person-to-person contact for transmission. Furthermore, and also unlike Covid, there appears to be no asymptomatic transmission. I am confident that working together and adhering to the points in the school response above, we will be able to keep our community safe.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Warm regards,

Anna Marsden