May 29, 2009
A lethal, newly identified hemorrhagic virus that killed four of the five people it infected in September and October 2008 has been given the working title of “Lujo”.
[efoods]Lujo, a member of the arenavirus family, which currently has 22 known species, was named to reflect its geographic origins: the primary case came from the Zambian capital, Lusaka, and secondary infections occurred in Johannesburg after the patient was transferred to the South African city for treatment.
Dr Lucille Blumberg, deputy director of South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, told IRIN that humans were most frequently infected with this virus by inhaling dust infected with rodent excreta, or ingestion. The name “Lujo” still has to be approved by “various committees” before it becomes official.
The fifth person to be infected with the Lujo virus – a nurse at Morningside Clinic, Johannesburg – survived after being treated with the antiviral drug, ribavirin, usually prescribed for Lassa fever, a hemorrhagic virus first identified in 1969.