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.