NEWS SCAN: New arenavirus and malaria species, H5N1 in India

May 29, 2009

Researchers identify new arenavirus species
Researchers using full genome analysis have confirmed suspicions that a new member of the Old World arenavirus family was responsible for a mysterious hemorrhagic fever in patients from Zambia and South Africa last fall that killed four of the five patients who had the illness, according to a study published today in Public Library of Science Pathogens (PLoS Pathogens). The investigators named the new pathogen Lujo virus to reflect its origin; Lusaka, Zambia, and Johannesburg, South Africa.) The new virus is the first hemorrhagic fever–associated Old World arenavirus from Africa discovered in 30 years.
[May 29 PLoS Pathogens study]
[Oct 28, 2008, CIDRAP News story]

New malaria agent found in chimps
In a development that could help researchers better understand how the malaria agent Plasmodium falciparum has adapated to humans, researchers from Gabon and France have identified a new Plasmodium species in chimps in Gabon. The group published its findings today in PLoS Pathogens. A lack of related agents has hampered the comparative genetics studies needed to identify potential drug targets for malaria. The group found the new species, termed P gabon, when they examined serum samples from 19 wild-born chimps that were kept as pets by villagers in Gabon. Previously, only one other species had been identified, P reichenowi, an agent also found in chimps.
[May 29 PLoS Pathogens study]
[May 28 PLoS Pathogens press release]

H5N1 strikes birds in India's West Bengal state
Animal health officials in India recently reported an H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in backyard birds in West Bengal state, according to a May 27 report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The outbreak began on May 20, killing 20 poultry in a village. West Bengal has reported several outbreaks over the past year. The last outbreaks were reported in March.
[May 27 OIE report]

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