Killer on the prowl

  • 14/12/1995
  • WHO

BARELEY have the memories of the deadly Eloba virus which took Zaire by storm Early this year faded from the mind of mme" community that yet opewrious killer. disease has Amd in the backlands of Nicaragua erupted in Achuapa, a farming north-west of Managua about a ago and has since taken a bum m" a report prepared by a World Health Organization research Team.

The Achuapa Febrile Syndrome - as it has been tentatively named by the baffled scientists - has since then in Rome adjacent towns. While mun working feverishly in a hospital in Leon, the largest city in the area, Ngeecded in containing it within sWon, the panic stricken Nicaraguan president Violeta Barrios de Chamoro has declared a nationwide medical emergency.

Saving the symptoms are chillingly similar to those manifest in an ebola-struck victim.The killer disease strikes with an agonizing bone ache and high fever, In the next stage, the victims begin to haernorrhage profusely and blood flows into their lungs, choking them to death within three or four days. Researchers working at the us Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, some of whom are now camping in Managua, are totally taken aback by this mysterious menace. It is neither dengue nor yellow fever, the two maladies which haunt the Nicaraguans most often, both of which are carried by mosquitoes. They have not even been able to decipher what has been causing the disease and how it is being transmitted.

But according to Daniel Epstein, spokesperson for the Pan-American Health Organization, who is also camping in Managua, it does not appear to be an air-borne disease and neither could one contract it through personal contact. Researchers are suspecting an animal carrier, but they have not ruled out a mutation of some familiar virus. Yet another explanation is being sought in the torrential rains that have lashed this part of the world in recent months.

Achuapa is located in a dry region where, under normal circumstances, water and food are extremely scarce commodities. But the heavy rains, spun off from an unusual series of Caribbean hurricanes, have flushed out rats and cockroaches from their hideouts and provided new breeding grounds for mosquitoes and countless other tropical insects. This phenomena might have triggered off the emergence of this deadly exterminator.

Currently, the situation still seems to be under control as Donald Quintana Fajardo, hospital director, Leon, assures that "If they come to us right away, we can still save them." He and his colleagues are keeping their fingers firmly crossed.

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