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The World in Medicine
November 19, 2008

Deadly New Virus?

JAMA. 2008;300(19):2239. doi:10.1001/jama.300.19.2239-d

A mysterious febrile illness that resulted in the deaths of 4 people from Zambia and South Africa was caused by a previously unknown arenavirus, according to a report from South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) (http://www.nicd.ac.za/pubs/communique/2008/NICDCommOct08Vol07_10.pdf).

The index case was a tourist guide living in Zambia who was evacuated to South Africa; the other 3 fatalities were a paramedic and an intensive care nurse who had cared for the guide and a person who cleaned the guide's hospital room. Symptoms included fever, headache, diarrhea, myalgia, rash, and hepatic dysfunction, followed by rapid deterioration and death.