It causes “Ebola-like” bleeding (which means sometimes blood starts to pour from a victims orifices) and killed four out of the five people who got it. If this sounds like the beginning of a zombie apocalypse to you you’re not alone. World War Z anyone?
ATLANTA (AP) – Scientists have identified a lethal new virus in Africa that causes bleeding like the dreaded Ebola virus. The so-called “Lujo” virus infected five people in Zambia and South Africa last fall. Four of them died, but a fifth survived, perhaps helped by a medicine recommended by the scientists.
It’s not clear how the first person became infected, but the bug comes from a family of viruses found in rodents, said Dr. Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University epidemiologist involved in the discovery.
Â “This one is really, really aggressive” he said of the virus.
A paper on the virus by Lipkin and his collaborators was published online Thursday on in PLoS Pathogens.
The outbreak started in September, when a female travel agent who lives on the outskirts of Lusaka, Zambia, became ill with a fever-like illness that quickly grew much worse.
She was airlifted to Johannesburg, South Africa, where she died.
A paramedic in Lusaka who treated her also became sick, was transported to Johannesburg and died. The three others infected were health care workers in Johannesburg.
Investigators believe the virus spread from person to person through contact with infected body fluids.
“It’s not a kind of virus like the flu that can spread widely,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which helped fund the research.
The name given to the virusâ€””Lujo”â€”stems from Lusaka and Johannesburg, the cities where it was first identified.
Investigators in Africa thought the illness might be Ebola, because some of the patients had bleeding in the gums and around needle injection sites, said Stuart Nichol, chief of the molecular biology lab in the CDC’s Special Pathogens Branch. Other symptoms include include fever, shock, coma and organ failure.
By the gods that’s a nasty bug. The fifth victim survived but doctors aren’t sure if she responded to treatment with ribivirin or just had a milder case. And since the bleeding was near the gums and the others were thought to be infected by bodily fluids it’s not hard to imagine that they were biten. I mean if you’re a blogger looking for a way to work in some Amazon links to zombie related material.
But in all seriousness I hope this “new virus” has been contained, the last thing the world needs is a new disease running rampant.