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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A mystery disease that has killed three people in South Africa and put medical authorities on high alert may be Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, a health official said on Tuesday.
He said the third victim was a nurse based at the clinic who had attended to the first patient. Reports indicate that the driver of the ambulance that ferried the patient from Lanseria Airport to Morningside was also in a critical condition.
Government was also working with the World Health Organisation and the United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC) to access their global expertise in dealing with outbreak responses. The CDC had undertaken to expedite the processing of samples to ensure test results were made available as quickly as possible, he said. An Emergency Medical Services hotline (011-564-2083) had been established to deal with enquiries. Health care workers were being trained to deal with patients showing symptoms of viral haemorrhagic fevers, and Port Health Services were being strengthened to deal with any situation, as were members of the Border Control Operational Co-ordinating Committee.
13 October 2008 -- The results of tests conducted at the Special Pathogens Unit, National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) of the National Health Laboratory Service in Johannesburg, and at the Special Pathogens and Infectious Disease Pathology branches of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, USA, provide preliminary evidence that the causative agent of the disease which has resulted in the recent deaths of 3 people from Zambia and South Africa, is a virus from the Arenaviridae family.
The death of a Morningside Medi-Clinic cleaner has been confirmed as being linked to viral haemorrhagic fever.
Morningside Medi-Clinic spokesperson Melinda Pelser said they had not received any official notification that Mokubung had been infected with the arenavirus.
Brazilian media reported officials as saying he may have been infected when he was a patient at a hospital in South Africa where four people died from a new strain of arenavirus, which also includes the germ that causes Lassa fever.