Unknown ailment

Published: Tuesday 15 July 1997

IN A desperate bid to combat Vhe spread of a fatal disease that has already claimed 14 lives 91thce April, Malaysia has sought help on the Internet. The health ministry has posted a notice on the Internet asking for help on the out-break of a disease suspected to be caused by the 'Coxsackie virus B,' which is relatively unknown to local doctors.

Most of the deaths ihat occurred due to the suspected viral attack in the eastern state of Sarawak on Borneo island, were caused by cardiogenic shock (abnormal functioning of the heart) due to swelling of heart. "As far as we know, there is no other parallel situation worldwide where this disease has been discovered and has caused so many deaths," said the health minister Chua Jui Meng. There is no known vaccination for the Coxsackie virus. If the death toll continues to rise, the health ministry may consider declaring the viral attack an epidemic. The virus usually attacks the throat before spreading to the hands and feet. However, a variant of it also attacks heart tissues, leading to heart failure.

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