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Posted by on Nov 11, 2008 in Infectious diseases

Quiet Update on New African Arenavirus

Quiet Update on New African Arenavirus


Buried in last week’s election news is a NYT update on the newly discovered African arenavirus, which killed a Zambian safari employee, a South African paramedic, and a South African nurse. The paramedic and the nurse both had close contact with the Zambian index case.

A fourth fatality is now reported as a woman who cleaned the South African hospital room of the index case. Another South African nurse, who cared for the paramedic, also became critically ill with the infection, but she responded to early treatment with the antiviral drug ribavirin, according to the paper.

The manner in which the index case became infected with the virus is unknown; however, arenaviruses are generally transmitted in the aerosolized, dried urine of infected rodents. Person-to-person transmission is presumed to be through contact with body fluids or respiratory droplets.

The small outbreak of the new arenavirus is believed to be isolated to these 5 cases.

Photo of house mouse (Mus musculus), which is the rodent vector for the arenavirus lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, from Wikipedia.

bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.