Emergencies preparedness, response

New virus from Arenaviridae family in South Africa and Zambia - Update

The results of tests conducted at the Special Pathogens Unit, National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) of the National Health Laboratory Service in Johannesburg, and at the Special Pathogens and Infectious Disease Pathology branches of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, USA, provide preliminary evidence that the causative agent of the disease which has resulted in the recent deaths of 3 people from Zambia and South Africa, is a virus from the Arenaviridae family.

Analysis continues at the NICD and CDC in order to characterize this virus more fully. CDC and NICD are technical partners in the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN).

Meanwhile, a new case has been confirmed by PCR in South Africa. A nurse who had close contact with an earlier case has become ill, and has been admitted to hospital. Contacts have been identified and are being followed-up.

WHO and its GOARN partners continue to support the Ministries of Health of the two countries in various facets of the outbreak investigation, including laboratory diagnosis, investigations, active case finding and follow-up of contacts.

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