Ugandans warned against eating monkey meat to stem Marburg virus


Uganda’s president and health experts warned against eating monkey meat, saying it could spread the Ebola-like Marburg virus.

wpid-Ugandas-President-Yoweri-Museveni.jpgA Kampala hospital worker died from the disease on September 28. About 109 people who are believed to have had contact with him are under observation, director-general for health services Jane Aceng told dpa.

However, 13 people who had developed Marburg-like symptoms tested negative for the disease, she said.

Some Ugandan ethnic groups living near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo eat monkey meat.

President Yoweri Museveni was calling on Ugandans not to eat monkey, “because monkeys spread Marburg,” Museveni’s spokesman Joseph Tamale Mirundi told dpa.

“Monkeys have been known to be hosts for Ebola and Marburg. They infect us. So we are advising Ugandans, please do not eat monkeys and do not even touch them,” Aceng said.

A senior World Health Organization official in Kampala responsible for Marburg, Solomon Fisseha, endorsed the government’s warnings.

“Bats are natural hosts for both Ebola and Marburg,” Fisseha told dpa.

“Monkeys can be infected with the virus from the bats. When humans eat the monkeys, they get infected. So people should avoid eating bush meat.”

According to the WHO, the Marburg virus begins abruptly with severe headaches and malaise. It causes heavy bleeding, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and, like Ebola, is transmitted through bodily fluids.

Fatality rates in Marburg outbreaks have varied from 25 per cent to more than 80 per cent, the WHO says.

The virus is named after the German town of Marburg, following an epidemic there and in Frankfurt in 1967.

The Marburg virus entered Uganda in 2012, affecting four south-western districts and killing nine people.

Uganda also has a history of Ebola outbreaks. The virus killed 224 people in the north of the country in 2000-01, 37 people near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007 and 17 people in the west of the country in 2012.


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