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Experts have identified a highly contagious and lethal new viral disease, which infected five people in Southern Africa. With some similarities to Ebola, the so-called Lujo virus may have passed to people from rodents.
According to a study in the journal PLoS Pathogens, Lujo causes 'hemorrhagic fever', which is a fever combined with heavy bleeding. It infected five people in Zambia and South Africa during September and October 2008, killing four of its victims.
"This mortality rate is extremely high," said Ian Lipkin, an epidemiologist at Colombia University in New York City, who co-authored the paper. His team are now trying to learn more about the virus, including how the first person became infected, its geographical distribution and possible treatments.
Originally posted by grover
By all accounts hemorrhagic fevers are among the ugliest ways to die... in essence your organs become so saturated with blood from internal bleeding that they liquify.
The first case was in Zambia, and the affected individual was transferred to South Africa by plane. The paramedic who attended the patient during air transfer, the nurse who cared for the patient in the hospital, and the person who cleaned the room after the patient's death all succumbed to the virus
I am struck by similarities between the events surrounding the discovery of Lujo virua and Lassa virus in 1969. In both outbreaks, Columbia University Medical center was involved, and a nurse who was infected by the index patient survived as a consequence of antiviral therapy.
the number of infections identified so far is small, and the lethality ratio might fall as additional infections are studied. Now that the sequence of Lujo virus is known, reagents can be produced which will enable rapid identification of new cases by more conventional diagnostic approaches such as polymerase chain reaction.