Monday, October 06, 2008

Bleeding sickness outbreak in South Africa

From Reuters SA

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 6 (Reuters) - South African health authorities are on high alert after three people died in hospital from an unknown, infectious disease similar to hemorrhagic fever, health officials said. A fourth person, a cleaner, had also died but it was not clear whether that case was related to the others who all died at the Morningside Clinic in Johannesburg, the hospital's spokeswoman Melinda Pelser said on Monday. There are several strains of hemorrhagic fever, including Ebola and Marburg, which have killed hundreds of people in outbreaks in Africa. The diseases cause bleeding from multiple sites and can have very high death rates. The South African Health Department issued an alert over the weekend after the deaths but Morningside spokeswoman Pelser said tests for existing strains of hemorrhagic fever were negative. Pelser said hospital officials were investigating an unknown flu-like disease which caused external and internal bleeding. It spreads through bodily fluids but there are no signs it is airborne.

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