New African Arenavirus Gets a Name
A newly discovered arenavirus, which caused fatal hemorrhagic fever in 1 Zambian and 3 South Africans* last year, has been named Lujo virus. The name is derived from the first 2 letters of the cities where victims manifested their illnesses: Lusaka, Zambia, and Johannesburg, South Africa. Lujo virus is the first Old World arenavirus discovered in 3 decades that is known to cause hemorrhagic fever, according to a new report in PLoS Pathogens.
A case of nonfatal hemorrhagic fever due to Lujo virus also occurred in a South African nurse, who cared for one of last year’s deceased victims. The nurse evidently responded to ribavirin treatment and has completely recovered. Human-to-human transmission of Lujo virus is believed to be through contact with infected body fluids. How the index case acquired infection is unknown, but disease-causing arenaviruses are typically transmitted from rodent vectors.
* A Zambian safari employee (index case), a South African paramedic, a South African nurse, and a South African hospital employee.
Photo of house mouse (Mus musculus), which is the rodent vector for the Old World arenavirus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, from Wikipedia.