Friday, May 29, 2009

Forget about H1N1 or swine flu, Lujo will be the new scare

lujo-virus-treeA new member of the arenavirus family, Lujo virus, has been identified in patients who died during an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in late 2008. Sequence analysis reveals that Lujo is a new arenavirus, genetically distinct from other members of the family which includes Lassa virus.

A patient with unexplained hemorrhagic fever was identified in Zambia in September 2008. After transfer to Sandton for further care, four health care workers involved with the case also became ill. The first four patients died, and the fifth survived after treatment with ribavirin.

Sequence analysis of total liver and serum RNA from the patients revealed the presence of a new member of the arenavirus family. The virus has been provisionally named Lujo based on its origin in Lusaka, Zambia, and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Lujo virus appears to be highly lethal in humans, based on the deaths of 4 out of 5 of the infected patients.

Virology Blog: Lujo virus, a new hemorrhagic fever virus from Southern Africa