Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lingering Questions and Problems with Bolivian Hemorrhagic Fever (Machupo Virus) and Lassa Fever, Olivia Cvitanic

Both Bolivian Hemorrhagic Fever and Lassa Fever are viruses characterized as Arenaviridae and both are considered viral hemorrhagic fevers. Like Professor Latto discussed in class, humans normally Bolivian Hemorrhagic Fever because of mice who serve as asymptotic vectors. This also proves true for Lassa Fever as discussed in The Coming Plague where one species of field mice were infected villagers in West Africa. Humans get sick from contact with mice urine and excrement, saliva, or any other secretions. Also, some village people became infected through handling the mice before cooking them for consumption. However, there is some concern that the puzzle is not so simple and is certainly not complete for two reasons. First, the dominating treatment for both these viruses is an antiviral drug ribavirin which is most effective when the virus is diagnosed and treated at an early stage which is problematic especially in Africa where doctors and the drugs needed to treat patients are scarce and often too expensive. This is also bad because both these viruses can be transmitted from person to person. Secondly, there is still some confusion about the origins of these viruses. The incidences of the disease and the habitat of the mouse species in each instance doesn’t completely correlate and it has been suggested that this discrepancy may be the result of some amount of natural immunity among certain villages. However, as demonstrated in The Coming Plague, injecting an infected person with antibodies for the disease is only effective if the virus is caught early enough and, in the case of Lassa fever, if the antibody donor had the same strain of the virus. If you would like read more, here are the links to to the websites that got some of my information from:

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