A mystery disease that can cause nosebleeds has reportedly killed three people in Burundi, a country located in the northeastern part of Africa, close to the borders with Tanzania and Rwanda. The deaths occurred within 24 hours of the symptoms emerging, and health authorities have dispatched teams to the Kirundo and Muyinga provinces to investigate the nature of the illness.
Reports suggest that the symptoms of the illness include abdominal pain, nasal bleeding, headache, fever, vomiting, and dizziness. These symptoms mimic those of the potentially lethal Ebola and Marburg viruses, which has caused concern among health experts. Last week, an 18-year-old student was admitted to the hospital with symptoms including bloody vomiting and diarrhea and nosebleeds, and unfortunately died the same day.
Health experts suspect the student died after contracting the Marburg virus, due to a current outbreak unfolding in neighboring Tanzania. However, according to SOS Media Burundi, a team was dispatched but results of the analysis were negative for both Ebola and Marburg. Marburg virus disease is a viral hemorrhagic fever that can have a fatality rate of up to 88 percent, according to the World Health Organization.
Symptoms of Marburg virus include fever, fatigue, and blood-stained vomit and diarrhea. There are currently no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat it. Another outbreak of Marburg is currently ongoing in Equatorial Guinea, on the west coast of Africa, where seven people have died since mid-February, and officials have counted 29 confirmed and probable cases, up from 16 last week. In Tanzania, there have been eight cases as of March 22, five of whom are confirmed dead.
The Ministry of Health has advised Burundians to wash their hands with clean water and soap and to avoid unprotected contact with bodily fluids. It has also advised against consuming wild animals and touching corpses with unknown causes of death. The Ministry said it is asking “the population to remain calm and to report to the nearest health facility any person in contact with the symptoms mentioned.”
It’s worth noting that the British health chiefs are continuing to monitor cases of cholera in Burundi following an outbreak, and UK health authorities have also classified Burundi as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. Last July, Tanzania suffered an outbreak of a mystery nosebleed disease, which killed three people, but the Tanzanian government later identified the disease as leptospirosis, also known as Weil’s disease. Weil’s disease is a rare infection spread by the urine of animals, including rats, mice, cows, pigs, and dogs.
It remains unclear what the actual illness is that is causing nosebleeds and deaths in Burundi. However, health experts are taking all necessary measures to identify the disease and prevent its spread. As always, it is vital that individuals take necessary precautions, such as washing hands regularly, avoiding contact with bodily fluids, and reporting symptoms to the nearest health facility, to protect themselves and others.