Mystery Bio-Outbreaks (2012)

BIOTERRORBIBLE.COM: The following “mystery” outbreaks occurred within the calendar year of 2012. While some of the following reports may have been legitimate outbreaks, most if not all of them appear to be generated man-made outbreaks with the overall goal of convincing American and the world that it is on the precipice of a major pandemic. The fact that these “mystery” outbreaks exists in mass confirms that an upcoming bio-terror attack is in the cards and may be played in a last ditch effort to regain political, economic and militarial control of society.

Title: Mystery Illness At LeRoy High School Spreads To 15 Students
Date: January 26, 2012
Source: Huffington Post

Abstract: The mystery illness that hit 12 girls at LeRoy High School in upstate New York -- which was recently diagnosed by a local doctor as conversion disorder -- has now spread to more teens at the school. The New York State Health Department confirms to local NBC affiliate WGRZ that they have seen 15 cases of students exhibiting the same Tourettes-like symptoms, including one boy.

The 12 girls who were initially exhibiting strange Tourette's-like tics and uncontrollable verbal outbursts several months ago, as well as three more students, are thought to have a particular type of conversion disorder known as mass psychogenic illness, an ailment in which psychological stress is expressed physically. School officials told TODAY that environmental factors in the school building or surrounding areas are not to blame, and the cause of the outbreak remains uncertain.

To get a second opinion on their diagnosis, students may elect to travel to the National Institute of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland for further testing. The testing will be free of charge, and will involve a physical examination as well as possible clinical neurophysiological testing.

Conversion disorder is a main area of research at the NIH facility, and those who are eligible may participate in the ongoing research study there (Huffington Post, 2012)

Title: Mystery Disease In Central America Kills Thousands
February 12, 2012
Huffington Post

Abstract: Jesus Ignacio Flores started working when he was 16, laboring long hours on construction sites and in the fields of his country's biggest sugar plantation.

Three years ago his kidneys started to fail and flooded his body with toxins. He became too weak to work, wracked by cramps, headaches and vomiting.

On Jan. 19 he died on the porch of his house. He was 51. His withered body was dressed by his weeping wife, embraced a final time, then carried in the bed of a pickup truck to a grave on the edge of Chichigalpa, a town in Nicaragua's sugar-growing heartland, where studies have found more than one in four men showing symptoms of chronic kidney disease.

A mysterious epidemic is devastating the Pacific coast of Central America, killing more than 24,000 people in El Salvador and Nicaragua since 2000 and striking thousands of others with chronic kidney disease at rates unseen virtually anywhere else. Scientists say they have received reports of the phenomenon as far north as southern Mexico and as far south as Panama.

Last year it reached the point where El Salvador's health minister, Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez, appealed for international help, saying the epidemic was undermining health systems.

Wilfredo Ordonez, who has harvested corn, sesame and rice for more than 30 years in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador, was hit by the chronic disease when he was 38. Ten years later, he depends on dialysis treatments he administers to himself four times a day.

"This is a disease that comes with no warning, and when they find it, it's too late," Ordonez said as he lay on a hammock on his porch.

Many of the victims were manual laborers or worked in sugar cane fields that cover much of the coastal lowlands. Patients, local doctors and activists say they believe the culprit lurks among the agricultural chemicals workers have used for years with virtually none of the protections required in more developed countries. But a growing body of evidence supports a more complicated and counterintuitive hypothesis.

The roots of the epidemic, scientists say, appear to lie in the grueling nature of the work performed by its victims, including construction workers, miners and others who labor hour after hour without enough water in blazing temperatures, pushing their bodies through repeated bouts of extreme dehydration and heat stress for years on end. Many start as young as 10. The punishing routine appears to be a key part of some previously unknown trigger of chronic kidney disease, which is normally caused by diabetes and high-blood pressure, maladies absent in most of the patients in Central America. 

"The thing that evidence most strongly points to is this idea of manual labor and not enough hydration," said Daniel Brooks, a professor of epidemiology at Boston University's School of Public Health, who has worked on a series of studies of the kidney disease epidemic.

Because hard work and intense heat alone are hardly a phenomenon unique to Central America, some researchers will not rule out manmade factors. But no strong evidence has turned up.

"I think that everything points away from pesticides," said Dr. Catharina Wesseling, an occupational and environmental epidemiologist who also is regional director of the Program on Work, Health and Environment in Central America. "It is too multinational; it is too spread out.

"I would place my bet on repeated dehydration, acute attacks everyday. That is my bet, my guess, but nothing is proved."

Dr. Richard J. Johnson, a kidney specialist at the University of Colorado, Denver, is working with other researchers investigating the cause of the disease. They too suspect chronic dehydration.

"This is a new concept, but there's some evidence supporting it," Johnson said. "There are other ways to damage the kidney. Heavy metals, chemicals, toxins have all been considered, but to date there have been no leading candidates to explain what's going on in Nicaragua ...

"As these possibilities get exhausted, recurrent dehydration is moving up on the list."

In Nicaragua, the number of annual deaths from chronic kidney disease more than doubled in a decade, from 466 in 2000 to 1,047 in 2010, according to the Pan American Health Organization, a regional arm of the World Health Organization. In El Salvador, the agency reported a similar jump, from 1,282 in 2000 to 2,181 in 2010.

Farther down the coast, in the cane-growing lowlands of northern Costa Rica, there also have been sharp increases in kidney disease, Wesseling said, and the Pan American body's statistics show deaths are on the rise in Panama, although at less dramatic rates.

While some of the rising numbers may be due to better record-keeping, scientists have no doubt they are facing something deadly and previously unknown to medicine.

In nations with more developed health systems, the disease that impairs the kidney's ability to cleanse the blood is diagnosed relatively early and treated with dialysis in medical clinics. In Central America, many of the victims treat themselves at home with a cheaper but less efficient form of dialysis, or go without any dialysis at all.

At a hospital in the Nicaraguan town of Chinandega, Segundo Zapata Palacios sat motionless in his room, bent over with his head on the bed.

"He no longer wants to talk," said his wife, Enma Vanegas.

His levels of creatinine, a chemical marker of kidney failure, were 25 times the normal amount.

His family told him he was being hospitalized to receive dialysis. In reality, the hope was to ease his pain before his inevitable death, said Carmen Rios, a leader of Nicaragua's Association of Chronic Kidney Disease Patients, a support and advocacy group.

"There's already nothing to do," she said. "He was hospitalized on Jan. 23 just waiting to die."

Zapata Palacios passed away on Jan. 26. He was 49.

Working with scientists from Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua, Wesseling tested groups on the coast and compared them with groups who had similar work habits and exposure to pesticide but lived and worked more than 500 meters (1,500 feet) above sea level.

Some 30 percent of coastal dwellers had elevated levels of creatinine, strongly suggesting environment rather than agrochemicals was to blame, Brooks, the epidemiologist, said. The study is expected to be published in a peer-reviewed journal in coming weeks.

Brooks and Johnson, the kidney specialist, said they have seen echoes of the Central American phenomenon in reports from hot farming areas in Sri Lanka, Egypt and the Indian east coast.

"We don't really know how widespread this is," Brooks said. "This may be an under-recognized epidemic."

Jason Glaser, co-founder of a group working to help victims of the epidemic in Nicaragua, said he and colleagues also have begun receiving reports of mysterious kidney disease among sugar cane workers in Australia.

Despite the growing consensus among international experts, Elsy Brizuela, a doctor who works with an El Salvadoran project to treat workers and research the epidemic, discounts the dehydration theory and insists "the common factor is exposure to herbicides and poisons."

Nicaragua's highest rates of chronic kidney disease show up around the Ingenio San Antonio, a plant owned by the Pellas Group conglomerate, whose sugar mill processes nearly half the nation's sugar. Flores and Zapata Palacios both worked at the plantation.

According to one of Brooks' studies, about eight years ago the factory started providing electrolyte solution and protein cookies to workers who previously brought their own water to work. But the study also found that some workers were cutting sugar cane for as long as 9 1/2 hours a day with virtually no break and little shade in average temperatures of 30 C (87 F).

In 2006, the plantation, owned by one of the country's richest families, received $36.5 million in loans from the International Finance Corp., the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group, to buy more land, expand its processing plant and produce more sugar for consumers and ethanol production.

In a statement, the IFC said it had examined the social and environmental impacts of its loans as part of a due diligence process and did not identify kidney disease as something related to the sugar plantation's operations.

Nonetheless, the statement said, "we are concerned about this disease that affects not only Nicaragua but other countries in the region, and will follow closely any new findings."

Ariel Granera, a spokesman for the Pellas' business conglomerate, said that starting as early as 1993 the company had begun taking a wide variety of precautions to avoid heat stress in its workers, from starting their shifts very early in the morning to providing them with many gallons of drinking water per day.

Associated Press reporters saw workers bringing water bottles from their homes, which they refilled during the day from large cylinders of water in the buses that bring them to the fields.

Glaser, the co-founder of the activist group in Nicaragua, La Isla Foundation, said that nonetheless many worker protections in the region are badly enforced by the companies and government regulators, particularly measures to stop workers with failing kidneys from working in the cane fields owned by the Pellas Group and other companies.

Many workers disqualified by tests showing high levels of creatinine go back to work in the fields for subcontractors with less stringent standards, he said. Some use false IDs, or give their IDs to their healthy sons, who then pass the tests and go work in the cane fields, damaging their kidneys.

"This is the only job in town," Glaser said. "It's all they're trained to do. It's all they know."

The Ingenio San Antonio mill processes cane from more than 24,000 hectares (60,000 acres) of fields, about half directly owned by the mill and most of the rest by independent farmers.

The trade group for Nicaragua's sugar companies said the Boston University study had confirmed that "the agricultural sugar industry in Nicaragua has no responsibility whatsoever for chronic renal insufficiency in Nicaragua" because the research found that "in the current body of scientific knowledge there is no way to establish a direct link between sugar cane cultivation and renal insufficiency."

Brooks, the epidemiologist at Boston University, told the AP that the study simply said there was no definitive scientific proof of the cause, but that all possible connections remained open to future research.

In comparison with Nicaragua, where thousands of kidney disease sufferers work for large sugar estates, in El Salvador many of them are independent small farmers. They blame agricultural chemicals and few appear to have significantly changed their work habits in response to the latest research, which has not received significant publicity in El Salvador.

In Nicaragua, the dangers are better known, but still, workers need jobs. Zapata Palacios left eight children. Three of them work in the cane fields.

Two already show signs of disease (Huffington Post, 2012).

Title: Air New Zealand Plane Quarantined In Auckland After 73 Passengers Fall Ill
Date: February 13, 2012
The Australian

Abstract: AN Air New Zealand plane has been quarantined after landing at Auckland Airport carrying children with flu-like symptoms, TVNZ reported.

The Boeing 777-200 landed in Auckland this morning local time, with 274 passengers from Narita International Airport outside Tokyo.

A group of 73 passengers, including children, were suffering from the flu-like symptoms.

TVNZ reported none of the passengers have been allowed to leave the plane. Two crews are on board and wearing protective gear.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service has been notified, TVNZ said (The Australian, 2012).

Title: Mystery Virus Kills Thousands Of Lambs
Date: February 25, 2012
Source: Telegraph

Abstract: The Schmallenberg virus causes lambs to be born dead or with serious deformities such as fused limbs and twisted necks, which mean they cannot survive.

Scientists are urgently trying to find out how the disease, which also affects cattle, spreads and how to fight it, as the number of farms affected increases by the day.

So far, 74 farms across southern and eastern England have been hit by the virus, which arrived in this country in January.

A thousand farms in Europe have reported cases since the first signs of the virus were seen in the German town of Schmallenberg last summer.

The National Farmers Union has called it a potential “catastrophe” and warned farmers to be vigilant. “This is a ticking time bomb,” said Alastair Mackintosh, of the NFU. “We don’t yet know the extent of the disease. We only find out the damage when sheep and cows give birth, and by then it’s too late.”

It is unclear exactly how the disease arrived in Britain, but the leading theory is that midges carried the virus across the Channel or North Sea in the autumn. However, scientists cannot yet rule out transmission of the disease from animal to animal.

Infected ewes do not show any symptoms of the virus until they give birth, with horrific results. Farmers have described delivering the deformed and stillborn animals as heartbreaking.

The lambing season has only just begun, which means that the full impact of the disease will not be felt until the weather warms up and millions more animals are born.

On the Continent, some farms have lost half of their lambs. So far the worst hit in Britain have lost 20 per cent, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Approximately 16 million lambs are born in Britain every year and sell at market for about £100 each. The effect of the disease on farms that are already struggling in the downturn could be severe.

“For any business to lose 20 per cent of your stock would be a huge blow,” said Mr Mackintosh. “For a farmer to lose 20 per cent of your flock is catastrophic. If it was 50 per cent you would be put out of action.

“I was talking to one who has 10,000 sheep. If he loses even five per cent of the animals born this year, that’s a hell of a lot of lambs. I know another who says 10 per cent of his ewes have become barren. He has 6,000 ewes, so that is 600 animals producing nothing.”

The Food Standards Agency has sought to allay any fears about eating lamb, although little is known about the virus so far.

The Agency said: “Any risk to consumers through the food chain is likely to be low. No illness has been reported to date in humans exposed to animals infected with Schmallenberg virus.”

The worst affected counties are Norfolk, Suffolk, East Sussex and Kent, but the virus has spread all along the south coast to Cornwall.

Farmers fear the disease may spread to larger flocks in the north of England, Wales and Scotland. In Europe, Germany, Holland and France have suffered worst, while recent cases have been reported in Italy and Luxembourg.

John, a farmer from East Sussex who wanted to remain anonymous, said he had lost 40 out of 400 lambs so far, at a cost to his business of more than £4,000.

“I’ve had to put more lambs down in the past month than I have done in the past 20 years. Every one is a serious blow to our finances. But it’s an emotional thing too,” he said.

There are also fears that the virus may be seen later this year among cows, which have a longer gestation period.

Five of the British farms have seen cattle affected, with calves aborted at six months of pregnancy.

Cows are thought to be more robust than sheep and therefore more resistant, but Schmallenberg virus could still reduce milk yields and put pressure on a dairy industry that is already suffering, says Mr Mackintosh. “From what I hear, we are likely to see weak calves that take a lot of expense and nursing to get going again. Having to do that will hit a business hard.”

The last confirmed midge-borne virus to hit the British farming industry was bluetongue in 2007, but a series of trade restrictions and a vaccine averted disaster.

This time there is no vaccine, and Defra says a ban on imports would not work, because the disease “is already here”. A spokesman said: “Defra is taking this seriously. We track emerging diseases. There is work going on across Europe and the amount we know is improving rapidly. We are keeping everything under review.”

Its website says “farmers and vets should remain vigilant and report any suspicious cases to AHVLA [the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency] for testing as part of our enhanced surveillance”. However, farmers are not yet legally required to notify authorities of an outbreak, leading some in the industry to fear it may already be much more widespread than figures suggest.

Nigel Miller, the president of the NFU in Scotland said: “The escalation and range of cases is deeply concerning and some experts are now suggesting that the volume of cases being seen is an indication that this is, in fact, the second year of infection.

“If that is the case then it raises the worrying prospect that the virus may have an effective overwintering mechanism.”

The AHVLA identifies Schmallenberg as one of a group of viruses “typically primarily spread by biting insect vectors, such as midges and mosquitoes, although the routes of Schmallenberg virus transmission have not yet been confirmed. The potential for direct transmission (ie direct from one animal to another) is therefore, as yet, unknown.”

It said: “There is unlikely to be a risk to human health from Schmallenberg virus; but this is not yet certain” (Telegraph, 2012)

Title: Uganda Government Squabbles While Children Die Of Mysterious Disease
Date: March 6, 2012
Source: Washington Times

Abstract: The Ugandan government has come under fire for its handling of a mysterious disease that has killed hundreds of children in the northern part of this impoverished East African nation.

The illness, called nodding disease and characterized by symptoms similar to epilepsy, has afflicted more than 1,000 children since June. Its cause is unknown, and there is no cure. Victims often nod their heads uncontrollably. Many also suffer mental retardation and stunted growth.

Government officials deflect blame for the outbreak. The Health Ministry faults the central government for failing to treat the disease and finance research into its cause. The government blames the Health Ministry for failing to tap funds in the ministry’s budget for malaria control to combat the epidemic.

The standoff has placed intense scrutiny on President Yoweri Museveni’s regime, which stands accused of massive financial mismanagement since a landslide presidential victory last year. Mr. Museveni assumed the presidency in 1986.

Last month, the Finance Ministry rejected the Health Ministry’s request for $3 million just days after it was announced that 170 newly elected members of parliament would receive about $50,000 each to purchase luxury vehicles.

 That same week, the government rejected a pay raise for teachers that would have kept pace with the country’s near 30 percent inflation rate.

Tamale Mirundi, a spokesman for Mr. Museveni, defended the government’s position.

“Nodding disease is not an issue for [the president’s office]. That falls under Ministry of Health,” he said.

Parliament recently approved a request from Mr. Museveni for a budget supplement of $39 million that he says is required to keep the government running despite massive injections of foreign aid each year. The United States alone gave Uganda $1.1 billion last year.

Mr. Museveni’s proposal does not include funding for nodding disease, which the government says the Health Ministry should handle by diverting about $420,000 meant for malaria control.

The Health Ministry said the malaria funds are not enough for a disease that spans three districts in the north of the country. Many victims of the disease travel long distances to reach the nearest of three treatment centers.

A group of Ugandans living in Britain, alarmed by what they see as government indifference toward the country’s sick and poor, plans to raise funds to provide social care and transportation for families affected by the disease. The World Health Organization is assisting with research into its cause and treatment.

The disease mainly affects children ages 5 to 15. It is characterized by repeated head drooping and is often accompanied by convulsions and staring spells. Those affected often have permanently stunted growth, including brain growth. Food and weather may trigger the illness.

The disease was first discovered in Tanzania in 1962.

Many of the victims are malnourished and already suffer from river blindness. At least 200 people have died (Washington Times, 2012).

Title: Mysterious Illness Kills 3 Family Members, Sickens Fourth
Date: March 7, 2012
Source: CBS News

Abstract: There’s a medical mystery in Calvert County. A respiratory illness killed almost an entire family.

Jessica Kartalija has the latest on the investigation.

Three family members are dead and another is still fighting for her life. Now investigators believe it could be a bizarre strain of the flu.

Calvert County’s hazmat team — on full respirators — entered their home looking for samples of a microbe deadly enough to kill three of four family members.

“We got a large family and everybody is concerned about what’s going on,” said a neighbor.

Ruth Blake, 81, died March 1. Her 58-year-old son and 51-year-old daughter died Tuesday.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has confirmed two family members died of complications of influenza H3  circulating this season, combined with a bacterial infection.

“I’m just concerned. It’s a really big loss to the family,” said a neighbor.

Maryland Medical Examiner David Fowler says at least one of the bodies was brought to Baltimore City for an autopsy. Blake’s other daughter is being treated at a Washington-area hospital. The three siblings were caring for Blake when she contracted a pneumonia-like illness.

“I think that this is highly unusual and that’s why this is newsworthy but as far as we can tell at this moment, this has been confined to these four individuals and this has been confined to this family group,” Fowler said.

Health officials have contacted members of Blake’s extended family.

“I don’t know a lot. I’m just trying to find out so I can take precautions for my family,” a neighbor said.

School officials in Calvert County are notifying parents to watch for signs of illness.

“It’s upsetting to think that there’s something out there and we don’t know what it’s all about,” a neighbor said.

Flu season goes through May. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, health officials are urging you to get one.

Health officials also urge anyone who believes they may have contracted the flu to wash their hands often and keep sick children at home (CBS News, 2012).

Title: Mysterious ‘Zombie’ Disease Afflicts Thousands Of Ugandan Children
Date: March 21, 2012
Raw Story

Abstract: Agnes Apio has to tie up her son Francis before she can leave the house. In his state, he is a danger to himself. Where once he walked and talked like a normal child, now he is only able to drag himself along in the dirt. Francis is suffering from “Nodding Disease,” a brain disorder that,
according to CNN, afflicts at least 3,000 children in northern Uganda, leaving them physically stunted and severely mentally disabled.

“I feel dark in my heart,” Apio says as waves flies away from her son’s face and mops up his urine after a seizure, “This boy has become nothing.”

“Reportedly the children gnaw at their fabric restraints, like a rabid animals,” says The Daily Tech.  The article calls them “zombie children,” having “no cure” and “no future.”

First the victims become restless, can’t concentrate. They say they have trouble thinking. Then comes the nodding, an uncontrollable dipping of the head that presages the disease’s debilitating epilepsy-like seizures. It is this nodding motion that gives the illness its name.

Nodding Disease first attacks the nervous system, then the brain. As the epilepsy-like seizures progress and worsen, the children become less and less like themselves, and more and more distant and blank. Eventually the brain stops developing and the victims’ bodies stop growing. So far, no patients have recovered.

Grace Lagat also has to tie up her children in order to leave the house. Daughter Pauline, 13, and son Thomas are bound hand and foot to keep them from shuffling away and getting lost. Pauline recently disappeared for five days.

Experts are baffled as to what causes the disease, which only occurs in children. Early findings suggest a confluence of the presence of the black fly-borne parasitic worm Onchocerca Volvulus, which causes river blindness, and acute vitamin B6 deficiency.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, onset usually takes place at the age of five or six and progresses rapidly, leaving the victims severely mentally and physically handicapped within a couple of years.

Victims can wander off and disappear. Some 200 “secondary deaths” have been blamed on fires and accidents caused by children with the disease.

Physicians and workers with the Ugandan Red Cross are frustrated by what they see as a lack of urgency in the government’s handling of the disease. After months of lagging, officials have only begun an official tally of cases within the last two weeks.

The situation was already dire when a team from the World Health Organization visited northern Uganda in 2009. CNN quotes one doctor from the team, Dr. Joaquin Saweka as saying, “It was quite desperate, I can tell you. Imagine being surrounded by 26 children and 12 of them showing signs of this. The attitude was to quickly find a solution to the problem.”

Solutions, however, have been slow in coming.

Doctors have been treating the seizures caused by the disease with epilepsy drugs, but their efficacy is limited. The drugs only slow the progression of the disease, but fail to stop it.

Currently, Ugandan government officials say that they are doing everything they can to fight the epidemic. They say that new epilepsy drugs are being tried and special training has been instituted for local health officials. This, they say, is as much as can be done for a disease whose cause and cure are largely unknown.

Saweka said, “When you know the root cause, you address the cure. Now you are just relieving the symptoms. We don’t expect to cure anybody” (Raw Story, 2012).

Title: Vietnam Pleads For Help As Mystery Disease Kills 19, Sickens 171
Date: April 19, 2012
Source: MSNBC

Abstract: Vietnam has asked the World Health Organization to help investigate a mystery disease that has killed 19 people and sickened 171 others in central Vietnam. 

Le Han Phong, chairman of the People's Committee in Ba To district in Quang Ngai province, says patients first experience a rash on their hands and feet along with high fever, loss of appetite and eventually organ failure. 

He says nearly 100 people remain hospitalized, including 10 in critical condition. Patients with milder symptoms are being treated at home. 

Phong says the first case was detected last year and that the disease had died down until a spate of new infections were recently reported, mostly in one impoverished village. 

A Ministry of Health investigation was inconclusive (MSNBC, 2012).

Title: Vietnam Pleads For Help As Mystery Disease Kills 19, Sickens 171
Date: April 20, 2012
Source: MSNBC

Abstract: Vietnam has asked the World Health Organization to help investigate a mystery disease that has killed 19 people and sickened 171 others in central Vietnam. 

Le Han Phong, chairman of the People's Committee in Ba To district in Quang Ngai province, says patients first experience a rash on their hands and feet along with high fever, loss of appetite and eventually organ failure. 

He says nearly 100 people remain hospitalized, including 10 in critical condition. Patients with milder symptoms are being treated at home. 

Phong says the first case was detected last year and that the disease had died down until a spate of new infections were recently reported, mostly in one impoverished village. 

A Ministry of Health investigation was inconclusive (MSNBC, 2012)

Title: Vietnam Mystery Disease Concerns WHO, Australian Virologist Believes It’s HFMD
Date: April 24, 2012

Abstract: Although they have not been asked to help in the investigation of the “mystery disease” that has killed 19 people in one Vietnamese province, officials with the World Health Organization (WHO) say they are concerned over the situation.

Wu Guogao, the WHO’s chief officer in Hanoi told the AFP Monday, "We are concerned about this. WHO is very aware of this case". He goes on to say, "It is difficult to say the exact cause at this stage".

The mysterious disease, which causes a horrible rash on the hands and feet and causes liver failure in about 10% of those afflicted, has reemerged in the mountainous areas of Quang Ngai province. In total, over 170 people have been infected.

However, not everyone thinks this is such a mystery.

Queensland University of Technology virologist, Prof John Aaskov said it’s almost certainly hand, foot and mouth disease caused by enterovirus 71 (EV 71) or coxsackie virus type A.

Dr. Aaskov said this during an interview Monday with Liam Cochrane on ABC Radio Australia.

The infectious disease expert says the fatality rate seen matches with the fatality rate of EV 71 and the virus has been an issue in Vietnam and China for many months.

Locals in Quang Ngai province have resorted to other means to protect themselves from the disease such as rituals and such. Villagers have even resorted to barricading those infected in their homes to prevent spread. Aaskov compares these actions to what was seen during the plague in Europe centuries ago.

He said improving hygiene is the key to preventing the disease.

As far as getting the WHO involved, Aaskov said it would probably not achieve very much, but it will cost a lot of money.

He believes the Vietnamese will get a handle on the situation (Examiner, 2012)

Title: U.K. Army Base Evacuated After Servicemen Fall Ill
Date: May 2, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: It was recently revealed that the headquarters of the British Army Land Forces in Andover, United Kingdom, were evacuated in late March over fears of a biological attack after four staff members collapsed from a mysterious illness.

Commanding officers thought that a package, possibly containing the bioterror agent anthrax, might have infiltrated the $71 million complex when the staff simultaneously fell ill with flu-like symptoms. A portion of the base was sealed off while Ministry of Defense Police investigated the possible security breach, according to

“It was panic stations,” an anonymous source at the base said, reports. “Their symptoms were so bad there were immediate fears that they had been exposed to an outside biochemical agent. Rumors spread like wildfire that there had been an anthrax attack in the building.

“People rushed outside and then the place was evacuated. There was a genuine belief that something was terribly wrong.”

The U.K. Ministry of Defense recently confirmed that base was evacuated on March 30. A thorough investigation revealed no evidence of foul play.

British Army Land Forces headquarters is the service’s main intelligence station and is considered a prime target for a terrorist attack. The incident highlights the risk posed to security forces by biochemical agents.

There are more than 2,000 civilian and military personnel working at the site, which coordinates all of the Army’s activities in the United Kingdom.

The affected servicemen have since recovered from the illness, but its cause has yet to be diagnosed, according to (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: WHO Investigating Mystery Disease In Cambodia Which Has Killed 61 Children
Date: July 4, 2012

Abstract: A mystery disease that has killed 61 young children in 
Cambodia in recent months is now the focus of a World Health Organization (WHO) investigation.

According to a joint press release between the WHO and Cambodia Ministry of Health (MoH) Wednesday, cases of severe respiratory disease with neurological symptoms have been reported. As of July 4, 61 of the 62 children admitted to hospitals have died from the ailment.

Dr. Nima Asgari, a public health specialist for the UN body in Cambodia said the first casualties were reported in April.

The release notes that the unknown disease starts with a high fever followed by respiratory and/or neurological symptoms with rapid deterioration of respiratory functions.

The collaboration between the WHO and the MoH are working to identify the possible causes of the disease; however, officials say a definitive identification of cause and source may take some time.

Asgari confirmed there was "no cluster of the cases yet" but said the high mortality rate in such a short space of time was worrisome (Examiner, 2012).

Title: Mystery Disease In Cambodia Kills 61 Children
Date: July 5, 2012
Fox News

Abstract: Health officials in Cambodia are searching for the cause of a mystery disease that has killed more than 60 children over the past three months, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

The "undiagnosed syndrome" has killed 61 of the 62 children admitted to hospitals since April, but there's no indication that it is spreading from person to person, said WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi.

She said health workers are trying to determine whether the cases were all the same disease or a collection of various illnesses.

The children were less than 10 years old and first fell ill with a high fever, followed by neurological symptoms and severe respiratory problems that quickly progressed. The cases have been reported in hospitals in 14 provinces, with most occurring in southern Cambodia.

The statement quoted Health Minister Man Bung Heng as saying identification of the cause may take some time. It said neighboring countries have been alerted (Fox News, 2012).

Title: 4 Dozen Become Ill After Church Picnic
Date: August 7, 2012
Fox News

Abstract: State health officials are looking for the source of an illness that struck at least 50 people who attended a community picnic in Middle Tennessee.

The St. Patrick's Irish Picnic in McEwen is a 158-year tradition that brings in about 20,000 people annually.
Department of Health spokeswoman Shelly Walker told 
WTVF-TV  reports started coming in a few days after this year's event on July 27-28. Walker said a few cases have tested positive for a strain of salmonella bacteria. She said investigators have also interviewed a number of people who attended the picnic and did not become ill.

Various food items have been tested, but the department has not isolated the source of the illness (Fox News, 2012)

Title: Researchers Say New AIDS-Like Mystery Disease Is Not Contagious
Date: August 23, 2012
Fox News

Abstract: Researchers have identified a mysterious new disease that has left scores of people in Asia and some in the United States with AIDS-like symptoms even though they are not infected with HIV.

The patients' immune systems become damaged, leaving them unable to fend off germs as healthy people do. What triggers this isn't known, but the disease does not seem to be contagious.

This is another kind of acquired immune deficiency that is not inherited and occurs in adults, but doesn't spread the way AIDS does through a virus, said Dr. Sarah Browne, a scientist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

She helped lead the study with researchers in Thailand and Taiwan where most of the cases have been found since 2004. Their report is in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

"This is absolutely fascinating. I've seen probably at least three patients in the last 10 years or so" who might have had this, said Dr. Dennis Maki, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

It's still possible that an infection of some sort could trigger the disease, even though the disease itself doesn't seem to spread person-to-person, he said.

The disease develops around age 50 on average but does not run in families, which makes it unlikely that a single gene is responsible, Browne said. Some patients have died of overwhelming infections, including some Asians now living in the U.S., although Browne could not estimate how many.

Kim Nguyen, 62, a seamstress from Vietnam who has lived in Tennessee since 1975, was gravely ill when she sought help for a persistent fever, infections throughout her bones and other bizarre symptoms in 2009. She had been sick off and on for several years and had visited Vietnam in 1995 and again in early 2009.

"She was wasting away from this systemic infection" that at first seemed like tuberculosis but wasn't, said Dr. Carlton Hays Jr., a family physician at the Jackson Clinic in Jackson, Tenn. "She's a small woman to begin with, but when I first saw her, her weight was 91 pounds, and she lost down to 69 pounds."

Nguyen (pronounced "when") was referred to specialists at the National Institutes of Health who had been tracking similar cases. She spent nearly a year at an NIH hospital in Bethesda, Md., and is there now for monitoring and further treatment.

"I feel great now," she said Wednesday. But when she was sick, "I felt dizzy, headaches, almost fell down," she said. "I could not eat anything."

AIDS is a specific disease, and it stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. That means the immune system becomes impaired during someone's lifetime, rather than from inherited gene defects like the "bubble babies" who are born unable to fight off germs.

The virus that causes AIDS -- HIV -- destroys T-cells, key soldiers of the immune system that fight germs. The new disease doesn't affect those cells, but causes a different kind of damage. Browne's study of more than 200 people in Taiwan and Thailand found that most of those with the disease make substances called autoantibodies that block interferon-gamma, a chemical signal that helps the body clear infections.

Blocking that signal leaves people like those with AIDS -- vulnerable to viruses, fungal infections and parasites, but especially micobacteria, a group of germs similar to tuberculosis that can cause severe lung damage. Researchers are calling this new disease an "adult-onset" immunodeficiency syndrome because it develops later in life and they don't know why or how.

"Fundamentally, we do not know what's causing them to make these antibodies," Browne said.

Antibiotics aren't always effective, so doctors have tried a variety of other approaches, including a cancer drug that helps suppress production of antibodies. The disease quiets in some patients once the infections are tamed, but the faulty immune system is likely a chronic condition, researchers believe.

The fact that nearly all the patients so far have been Asian or Asian-born people living elsewhere suggests that genetic factors and something in the environment such as an infection may trigger the disease, researchers conclude.

The first cases turned up in 2004 and Browne's study enrolled about 100 people in six months.

"We know there are many others out there," including many cases mistaken as tuberculosis in some countries, she said (Fox News, 2012)

Title: Mystery Virus Sickens German School Children
Date: September 1, 2012

Abstract: An outbreak of an unknown virus in eastern Germany has made 4,000 school children ill. It is believed contaminated school lunches are to blame, causing excessive vomiting and diarrhoea among young sufferers.
Anke Protze who works for the Chemnitz Health Bureau, explains the nature of the illness.
“There are serious and not so serious cases - some children had to be hospitalised. With this sickness you have an enormous loss of fluids and minerals. That means the first thing to do is not give antibiotics but replace the fluids,” she said.
Several schools have closed their doors as a precautionary measure. All eyes are now on catering company Sodexo, which supplies all the schools hit by the bug. 
Sodexo spokesman Stephan Dürholt outlined his company’s position: “For the moment we are not able to see any reasons for this. We’re analysing everything possible and are trying to eliminate all the things  that could lead to any possible form of this disease.”
Prior to the virus, critics were already calling on the government to spend more money on school dinners. An investigation into the cause of the outbreak is currently underway by the German health department
(Euronews, 2012).

Title: Mysterious Virus Emerges In The Middle East
Date: September 24, 2012
Source: Wall Street Journal

Abstract: Global health authorities are hunting for cases of a mysterious viral respiratory illness that killed at least one person in Saudi Arabia and left another who traveled there in intensive care in a U.K. hospital.

Health officials said the source of the virus infecting both is unknown, though they have identified it as a coronavirus, part of a large family of viruses that in most cases cause common colds, but also have caused SARS.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome erupted in China in late 2002 and spread to a number of countries, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing about 775 before it disappeared in mid 2003.

The World Health Organization said the new virus has been identified in a 49-year-old man from Qatar who traveled to Saudi Arabia before falling ill Sept. 3. He is being treated for acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure.

The virus that infected him bears a 99.5% similarity to one isolated from the lung tissue of a 60-year-old man from Saudi Arabia who died this summer after suffering respiratory and kidney failure, the WHO said.

Saudi officials identified a third case of a person who died, but didn't give further details. The WHO said it was a suspect case that can't be confirmed postmortem.

However, the U.K.'s Health Protection Agency said it was investigating the case of a person from the Middle East who died in the U.K.

"There is no evidence at present to suggest that it is caused by the same virus or linked to the other two cases," the HPA said, adding that it was "aware of a small number of other cases of serious respiratory illness in the Middle East in the past three months."

The cases come a month ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage, which draws millions of Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. The Hajj pilgrimage runs this year from roughly Oct. 24 to Oct. 29.

Saudi Arabia's health ministry played down the threat. "Such occasions are rare…and there is no cause for concern," the health ministry said.

The two confirmed cases have no connection to one another—except that both were in Saudi Arabia. The Qatari man was hospitalized in an intensive care unit in Qatar on Sept. 7 and taken by air ambulance to London Sept. 11.

With no indication yet whether the new virus is like SARS, which spread from person to person, officials are tracking this new virus closely.

"There is way too little information," WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said. "We don't know if the denominator is two cases or 20,000 cases. We don't know how it is transmitted."

But Mr. Hartl said the new disease was unlikely to be SARS itself, because the symptoms differ. Kidney failure wasn't a feature of SARS, and in general is unusual for a respiratory illness, he said.

The WHO has alerted health authorities around the world about the two cases and said reports of potential cases were being followed up.

Saudi health authorities are looking for more potential cases and have queried intensive care units in their country, Mr. Hartl said. No new cases have been confirmed, he said.

"We're asking people involved in cases for more details on symptoms," he said. "Anything that looks likes these cases symptomatically is being really closely watched and followed up on."

The HPA said it has reached out to people who have been in contact with the ill patient in the U.K. to make sure they have not been infected.

"There is no evidence to suggest they have," John Watson, head of the HPA's respiratory diseases department, said in a statement. "Further information about these cases is being developed for healthcare workers in the UK, as well as advice to help maintain increased vigilance for this virus."

—Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this article.

Corrections & Amplifications 
Saudi and U.K. officials have identified three potential cases, including two deaths, of persons with a viral respiratory illness. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said Saudi officials had identified three deaths from the illness (Wall Street Journal, 2012)

Title: SARS II? Public Health Officials On Alert After New Virus Detected
Date: September 24, 2012
Source: RT

Abstract: World Health Organization (WHO) officials are on alert after two confirmed cases and one suspected case of a new virus from the same family as SARS appeared in Saudi Arabia last week. Doctors are watching for any sign the disease may spread.

The cases involve a coronavirus (named for the corona, or halo, visible around the virus under a microscope) that causes severe pneumonia and kidney failure in patients. One of the confirmed cases is a 49 year-old man in intensive care in a London hospital after being evacuated by air-ambulance to Britain from Qatar on September 11.

The other two confirmed cases have already died.  

Dr. Ali Mohamed Zaki first revealed that a new coronavirus had been discovered last week in a 60-year-old man at the Soliman Fakeeh Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on the ProMED-mail website, a site used to monitor infectious diseases around the globe. In the post, Zaki noted that the coronavirus was similar to those found in bats. 

The most famous coronavirus was the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak that killed about 916 and infected 8,422 worldwide. The potential threat of this particular coronavirus is not yet known, but World Health Organization (WHO) officials are monitoring the situation. 

"Given that this is a novel coronavirus, WHO is currently in the process of obtaining further information to determine the public health implications of these two confirmed cases," the WHO said in a statement. 

The discovery of the new virus comes at a potentially hazardous time; on the eve of the Hajj, the Islamic holy pilgrimage to the city of Mecca.  Saudi Arabia opened its borders to pilgrims on September 17, but the real influx of pilgrims is set for the end of October. Last year, almost 2 million Muslims from around the world completed the rite. 

WHO officials are not imposing any travel restrictions at the moment, despite the potential for the new virus to go global. 

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) in the United Kingdom also weighed in on the matter. 

"The HPA is providing advice to healthcare workers to ensure the patient under investigation is being treated appropriately. In the light of the severity of the illness that has been identified in the two confirmed cases, immediate steps have been taken to ensure that people who have been in contact with the UK case have not been infected, and there is no evidence to suggest that they have,” Professor John Watson, said in a statement.

While urging vigilance, Professor Watson also echoed the WHO, saying there was no reason for any travel advisories, no specific precautions to take, and the ultimate reach and contagiousness of the virus has yet to be determined (RT, 2012).

Title: New Virus Linked To SARS Identified In Britain
Date: September 24, 2012
Source: Telegraph

Abstract: The United Nations health body, which issued a statement through its "global alert and response" system, said tests on the patient, a 49-year-old Qatari man, confirmed the presence of a new, or novel, coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which includes the common cold and SARS.

"Given that this is a novel coronavirus, WHO is currently in the process of obtaining further information to determine the public health implications," the statement said.

SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, appeared in China in 2002 and killed some 800 people globally before being brought under control.

Peter Openshaw, director of the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London, said at this stage the novel virus looked unlikely to prove a concern, and may well only have been identified due to sophisticated testing techniques.

"For now, I would be watchful but not immediately concerned," he told Reuters.

The WHO said the Qatari patient had first presented to doctors on September 3, 2012 with symptoms of an acute respiratory infection.

On September 7, he was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha, Qatar, and on September 11, he was transferred to Britain by air ambulance from Qatar.

"The Health Protection Agency of the UK conducted laboratory testing and has confirmed the presence of a novel coronavirus," the WHO said.

It said scientists at the HPA compared gene sequences of the virus from the Qatari patient with samples of virus sequenced by Dutch scientists from lung tissue of a fatal case earlier this year in a 60-year-old Saudi national.

The two were almost identical, it said.

Openshaw said the fact the two cases found so far are apparently unrelated suggests "that what has been picked up is just some rare event that in past times might have been undiagnosed".

But he added: "Any evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission or of contact would be more worrying, raising the worry that another SARS-like agent could be emerging."

The WHO said it was not recommending any travel restrictions but would be seeking further information on the virus (Telegraph, 2012)

Title: New Mystery Virus Not Easily Spread: WHO
Date: September 28, 2012
France 24

Abstract:  A new mysterious respiratory virus that has killed at least one person and left another in critical condition does not appear very contagious, the World Health Organisation said Friday.

"From the information available thus far, it appears that the novel coronavirus cannot be easily transmitted from person to person," the WHO said in a statement.

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told reporters in Geneva that rapid progress was being made in characterising the disease and developing diagnostic tests, which would be made available as quickly as possible.

The origin of the new virus was still unknown, he said.

The UN health agency has previously confirmed that the new illness was in the coronavirus family, which also includes the deadly SARS virus as well as the common cold.

The new virus however is different from SARS, especially in that it causes rapid kidney failure.

The new virus has caused the death of a Saudi national and has also left a Qatari man seriously ill in a London hospital after he was transferred there from Doha earlier this month, the WHO previously reported, adding that he had also been in Saudi Arabia.

The two known cases surfaced three months apart and there was no clear connection between the two men.

"Given the severity of the two laboratory confirmed cases, WHO is continuing to monitor the situation in order to provide the appropriate response, expertise and support to its member states," Friday's statement said.

WHO said that tests for the new virus were currently available at some of its partner laboratories for patients under investigation.

With pilgrims already arriving in Saudi Arabia for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage, the WHO reiterated Friday that it was not yet recommending travel or trade restrictions for the Saudi kingdom or Qatar.

"WHO is working closely with the national authorities of the involved countries (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom) and international partners in order to better understand the public health risk from the novel coronavirus," the agency said (France 24, 2012).

Title: S. Arabia Downplays Impact Of Mystery Virus On Hajj
Date: September 25, 2012
Source: France 24

Abstract: Saudi health authorities downplayed Tuesday the impact of a possible outbreak of a virus from the family of deadly SARS on its forthcoming Hajj pilgrimage, stressing that the cases remain rare.

Pilgrims have begun to arrive in Saudi Arabia for the ritual that represents the world's largest annual gathering as some two million faithful are expected to descend on the Muslim holy city of Mecca for the hajj which peaks in late October.

"There have been two cases of flu over a period of time. This is normal," said health ministry spokesman Khaled al-Mirghalani.

"There are no changes to the conditions put by the health ministry to pilgrims," he said, adding that authorities remain vigilant.

The undersecretary for preventive medicine at the Saudi health ministry, Ziyad Memish, said the "virus has been in the kingdom for three months."

He, however, insisted the situation was "stable and no new cases have been recorded." Memish said the kingdom is not planning to impose new preventive measures on pilgrims.

The virus has caused the death of a Saudi national and has left a Qatari man in serious conditions at a London hospital, said the World Health Organization (WHO).

The 49-year-old Qatari was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha on September 7 suffering from acute respiratory infection and kidney failure before being transferred to Britain by air ambulance on September 11, the WHO said.

The WHO confirmed the illness was in the coronavirus family but was not SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which swept out of China in 2003, killing more than 800 people worldwide.

"This is not SARS, it will not become SARS, and it is not SARS-like," said Gregory Haertl, a WHO spokesman in Geneva, pointing out that what sets the new virus apart was that it caused rapid kidney failure.

Qatar's top health authority announced on Monday that no other cases have been reported in the Gulf state, apart from the citizen who fell ill in Saudi Arabia.

The head of the country's public health authority, Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, said the infected Qatari had "been treated in Qatar for two months before being transferred to London."

Last year, nearly three million Muslim pilgrims performed the hajj, which represents one of the five pillars of Islam and must be performed at least once in a lifetime by all those Muslims who are able to do so (France 24, 2012).