New cases of Ebola-like virus discovered in Bolivia

Specialists from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) detected in Bolivia new cases of the Chapare virus, which has similarities to Ebola and can be spread from person to person through secretions, even in a healthcare setting. There is no specific treatment against this disease, of which outbreaks have been registered in 2003 and 2019.

In January 2003, a young farmer from Samuzabeti (Chapare) presented fever and headache. After a few days, the 22-year-old patient began to feel discomfort in his muscles and joints. Vomiting and bleeding followed later. The treating physician, Simón Delgado, tested for dengue and yellow fever, which were negative. Intrigued, he sent samples of the virus to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They determined that it was a new type of arenavirus.

Since then, no more has been known about this unwanted discovery, until 2019, when a new study detected more cases, also in Bolivia. "Our work confirmed that a young resident physician, an ambulance physician, and a gastroenterologist contracted the virus after encountering infected patients, and two of these healthcare workers later died," said CDC epidemiologist Caitlin Cossaboom. Also one of the patients lost their lives.

Experts estimate that the disease originated in the field mice and that the people who were infected had contact with the feces of rodents, although there is no absolute certainty of this. The high mortality rate, 60 percent at least, raises the alarm among experts, who -in any case- affirm that a pandemic is unlikely. "Hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola are rarely as widespread as respiratory diseases," said Colin Carlson, a researcher at Georgetown University.

> Direct contact with fluids, its contagion is more difficult. However, "the outbreaks can devastate health care systems, with large numbers of workers falling ill after treating infected patients" without proper protection. The symptoms of Chapare are similar to those of Ebola: fever, headache , abdominal discomfort, rashes, organ failure and bleeding Currently there are no known active outbreaks of the disease.

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