Experts mine bats in search of Marburg reservoir

17 August 2007

Scientists examine captured bats
WHO/Chris Black

Marburg haemorrhagic fever is a severe and highly fatal disease caused by a virus from the same family as the one that causes Ebola haemorrhagic fever. Both diseases are rare, but can cause dramatic outbreaks with high fatality. There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine. Two cases of Marburg virus infection have recently been reported in Uganda. One of the people, a miner, died in July.

An international team of scientists is working to identify the hosts of the virus and mode of its natural transmission in the environment. They are particularly focusing on the mines and surrounding area.

This week experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa and WHO entered a lead and gold mine in a remote forest reserve in western Uganda to search for bats, which are suspected to be the source of the latest Marburg outbreak. This photo story documents their expedition into the mines.

Read the photo story

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