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Posted by on May 29, 2009 in Genetics, Infectious diseases

New African Arenavirus Gets a Name

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.

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.