Virology laboratories put on high alert

    October 12 2008 at 11:55AM

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In the wake of the deaths linked to the "mystery disease", the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has placed several virology laboratories around the country on alert.

What is baffling scientists is that two of the victims, Hannes Els and Gladys Mthembu, showed an initial improvement, but then had a sudden and marked deterioration in mental state, rhabdomyolysis (a rapid breakdown of skeletal muscles) in one case, and evidence of acute and severe hepatic necrosis (death of cells).

The clinical and laboratory features in all three victims included about seven days of fever, headache, diarrhoea and myalgia (painful muscles) in the early stages, followed by an acute illness with fever of 38C, a morbilliform (measle-like) rash in two patients, thrombocytopenia (abnormal decrease in the number of platelets in the blood) and mild hepatic (liver) dysfunction in two patients.

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