Newly Identified African Virus Related to Rabies Causes Hemorrhagic Fever

Posted on September 30, 2012

Another deadly horrifying virus has been discovered in Africa. This new virus, Bas-Congo virus, or BASV, is a Rhabdoviruses, which is a family of viruses that includes Lyssavirus, the Rabies virus. The virus is unique in the Rhabdovirus family in that it produces acute hemorrhagic fever in infected humans. It was reported here in PLoS Pathogens.

The first and only known outbreak of the Bas-Congo virus was in a Mangala village in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Africa in 2009. Three people came down with the virus in a three week period and two died. All patients suffered from high fever and bloody vomiting and diarrhea. There have been no known cases since 2009.

The researchers say their findings suggest that "BASV may be spread by human-to-human contact and is an emerging pathogen associated with acute hemorrhagic fever in Africa."

NPR has an interesting report on the new virus here. Study co-author Charles Chiu of the University of California San Francisco, told NPR that "Up to 20 percent of hemorrhagic fever outbreaks in the Congo don't have a diagnosis." He says they test negative for viruses known to cause acute hemorrhagic fever such as Ebola and Marburg. Because of this Chiu believes there could be several more hemorrhagic fever viruses out there in the Congo that still have not been identified.
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