Did Marburg Outbreak Start With Vaccination Program?

Looks like I’m not the only one wearing a tinfoil hat. Dr. Henry L. Niman writes:

Most of the affected persons are children under one year old. Three nurses were also infected. This week, 12 samples tested positive for Marburg fever by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The above comments by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on March 25 suggest that the Marburg outbreak in Angola was initiated via a childhood vaccine program.

The initial WHO announcement indicated around 75% of the cases were in children under the age of 5. The comments by MSF indicate that more than 67% of the cases under 5 years-of-age were in children under 1 year-of-age.

Since Marburg hemorrhagic fever is now readily transmitting to teenagers and adults, including 17 health care workers, it seems that the concentration of cases in children under 1 was not due to a lack of immunity that coud be found in adults. Indeed, the case fatality rate has been at or near 100% for all cases, regardless of age, with few, if any, survivors.

Unfortunately, the cases in Angola did not receive significant attention until health care workers were infected about a month ago. Within 1-2 weeks the Marburg virus was detected in 9 of 12 fatal cases, and resources began to flow into Angola.

However, it now seems that the effort failed to interrupt transmission when the virus was largely confined to the city of Uige, and now cases in seven provinces have been reported. The number of cases has more than doubled in the past few weeks.

Prior Marburg and Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks had been largely limited to rural areas. However, the cases in the Angola capital of Luanda, and associated slums like Cacuaco, threaten to create a novel transmission setting in a densely populated urban area. This setting could magnify the number of cases, which could lead to a much broader outbreak inside and outside of Angola, potentially leading to a deadly pandemic.

(emphasis added)

This may explain why Angolans were throwing rocks at health workers late last week–they already figured out how the outbreak started. Consider again the unlikely combination of facts I outlined last week. The conspiracy angle doesn’t seem so far-fetched any more.

Given easy access to air travel and the 5-7 day incubation period of the disease, the pandemic scenario Dr. Niman mentions is a very real threat. All it takes is one infected traveler on an international flight.

Is the pale horse getting ready to ride?

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4 responses to “Did Marburg Outbreak Start With Vaccination Program?

  1. Derek,
    The thing I’ve been looking for, but haven’t seen, is how infectious it is. Epidemiology people have a characteristic number which is essential in understanding the spread of epidemics; I think it’s called R, but I’m not 100% on that. Anyway, it’s related to the average number of people infected by a single infectious individual. This is obviously related to how the disease is spread, which is why diseases which can be spread in the air are particularly problematic.
    Certainly this kills a lot of the people it infects, which is bad — but I haven’t so far seen any indication that it spreads that easily. Most of the non-children infected are healthcare workers, and I read it spread by bodily fluids.
    Of course, it could prove otherwise. But I tend to be somewhat more afraid of things like Ebola, which at least can spread via the air.

  2. The scarcity of hard data from the areas hit by the disease make it difficult to assess the danger. Dr. Henry Niman has been writing about this outbreak at his website, Recombinomics.

    The total number of Marburg cases alive is relatively small. When the WHO first announced the sequence results on March 23, there were only 7 Marburg patients alive. 95 out of 102 had died. The number diagnosed has risen to 213 and the number still alive has grown to 30. The increase in patients alive simply reflects the fact that newly diagnosed patients are being tallied quicker than older existing cases are dying. As noted above, there are only 12 patients in the main hospital at the epicenter of the outbreak.

    The ability of such a small number of patients to infect so many health care workers, especially after infection control efforts have been increased, raises the possibility that airborne transmission is fairly efficient. The current outbreak in Angola has a case fatality rate at or near 100%, higher than any prior large outbreak of Marburg or Ebola. It has now begun transmitting in Luanda, and will easily eclipse the old record of 280 deaths set for Ebola in 1976.

    Marburg has now been reported in 7 provinces in Angola. All of these cases outside of Uige have happened in the past several weeks. The widespread transmission, coupled with the near 100% fatality rate, suggests the Marburg virus is a recombinant, and the new virus may have increased its ability to transmit and kill.

  3. I think the Pale Rider is at least pulling on his boots.

  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was started by a vaccination program. Thats how aids started in haiti and africa by the world health organization giving vaccinations for small pox. Didn’t anyone every wonder why haiti and africa have such an outlandish amount of aides especially since drugs actually aren’t a real issue nor is indiscriminate sex the majority of these people are tribal and have certain ethics ab out their women.

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