New, Rabies-Related Virus Caused Death in the Congo

An isolated outbreak of a deadly disease known as acute hemorrhagic fever, which killed two people and left one gravely ill in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the summer of 2009, was probably caused by a novel virus scientists have never seen before. Described online on September 27, 2012 in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens, the new microbe has been named Bas-Congo virus (BASV) after the province in the southwest corner of the Congo where the three people lived. It was discovered by an international research consortium that included scientists from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the University of California, Davis, Global Viral, the Centre International de Recherches Médicales de Franceville in Gabon, the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale, Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Metabiota, and others. “Known viruses, such as Ebola, HIV, and influenza, represent just the tip of the microbial iceberg,” said Joseph Fair, Ph.D., a co-author and vice president of Metabiota. “Identifying deadly unknown viruses, such as Bas-Congo virus, gives us a leg up in controlling future outbreaks.” “These are the only three cases known to have occurred, although there could be additional outbreaks from this virus in the future,” said Charles Chiu, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF and director of the UCSF-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center, who spearheaded the UCSF effort to identify the virus. Dr. Chiu and his team continue to work on new diagnostics to detect the virus so that health officials in the Congo and elsewhere can quickly identify it should it emerge again. One odd characteristic of the Bas-Congo virus, Dr.
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