Published Date: 2002-08-01 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/EDR> Undiagnosed deaths - Madagascar (Fianarantsoa)
Archive Number: 20020801.4906
UNIDIAGNOSED DEATHS - MADAGASCAR (FIANARANTSOA)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Wed 31 Jul 2002
From: ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
& "Pablo Nart" <email@example.com>
Source: BBC News online, World edition, Wed 31 Jul 2002 [edited]
Unidentified Viral Infection Hits Madagascar
A total of 62 people have died in Madagascar following an outbreak of
an unidentified viral infection. The illness, which struck the village of
Ikongo in the central highlands province of Fianarantsoa, has all the
symptoms of flu. It has been present in the region for over a week.
The official casualty figures released by the Ministry of Health of 62
dead resulting from the viral illness is, say sources in the province of
Fianarantsoa, not indicative of the real number of victims. The problem
is that many people in the region are using traditional methods to treat
the virus, believing it to be common flu, instead of seeking medical
attention in hospital.
More than 150 people have been successfully treated since the virus
struck. The Ministry of Health has dispatched specialist delegations to
the area to try to isolate the spread of the illness. However, experts
remain unsure about what it is exactly they are treating. Following the 7-
month political dispute and the ensuing economic disruption, great
numbers of people can no longer afford to seek modern medical care.
Humanitarian aid experts say this will continue to have long-term
health consequences for the island's population.
[Byline: Jonny Donovan Antananarivo]
[Unless lab tests have ruled out a bacterial cause, it seems premature to
blame this outbreak on a virus. If the "successful treatment" was due to
antibiotics, this also suggests a bacterial cause, since antibiotics have no
effect on viruses. Madagascar is endemic for plague (see refs. below),
which might have become pneumonic. West Nile virus also produces
respiratory symptoms, & possible evidence of its presence in lemurs on
the island has been reported (see ref. below). It is also probably the flu
season there now.
Further information on the progress and diagnosis of this outbreak
would be appreciated. - Mod.CP/JW]