Terror of Mato Grosso

Published: Friday 30 June 1995

BRAZIL has been a favourite hunting ground for mysterious killer viruses. Unknown illnesses, giving occasion to much brainracking in medical circles, have been its bane. Four deaths recently in Cuiaba in the state ofMato Grosso - mortalities attributed to a virus called the Hanta virus ( closely related to the Ebola Zaire filovirus) -have created another scare.

The Hanta virus is believed to infect people through contact with animal - particularly rodent -faeces and urine. Floods, to which Cuiaba has been rather prone, distributed the rodent urine over large areas, making contact with human beings more likely.

Isolated samples of the virus strains have been sent to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, us, for confirmation. Cuiaba has the same kind of tropical biodiversity as Amazonia; experts are of the opinion that the Amazonian forests could be a potential breeding ground for similar viruses. (IPS) 8

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