Killer virus scare hits KZN

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

A radiographer has been admitted to St Augustine's Hospital in Durban with symptoms of the arena- virus that killed three people in Johannesburg recently.

Hospital manager Augusta Dorning said early indications suggested that the patient had not contracted the so-called rat fever.

"We are, however, extremely cautious," Dorning said. "The patient will be kept in isolation until we receive a definite negative test result for the virus."

The radiographer, who worked at the Morningside Medi-Clinic in Johannesburg, where the arena- virus was first identified, was admitted to hospital on Tuesday after becoming critically ill and showing symptoms of the rodent borne disease.

Clinic spokesman Melinda Pelser confirmed that the radiographer had come into contact with the first person who was killed by the arenavirus.

"The oncology staff came into contact with Cecilia van Deventer in September 12 when she arrived in the clinic to be treated for tick fever. She was on our contact list, which is being monitored for 21 days."

Van Deventer, the first arena- virus patient to die, was treated at the Morningside Medi-Clinic.

Then paramedic Hannes Els, who had accompanied her to South Africa from Zambia, also died. He was followed by nurse Gladys Mthembu, who had also come into contact with Van Deventer.

Early this week three clinic staff were admitted with symptoms of the virus. One nurse tested positive. She is currently in isolation at the clinic in a stable condition.

The second nurse and a laboratory technician were discharged yesterday.

"Our list of people who came into contact with the people who died has increased to 94, including the two nurses and a technician," Pelser said.

The Sir Albert Robinson Hospital on the West Rand has reported 55 people on their contact list.