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The resurgence of the Sabiá virus

A group led by infectious disease specialists Ana Catharina Nastri and Anna Sara Levin, from the School of Medicine at the University of São Paulo, has identified two cases of Brazilian hemorrhagic fever, caused by the Sabiá virus, of the genus mammarenavirus, since 2019. Before this, only two other cases of the disease had ever been recorded in Brazil, the last of which was more than 20 years ago. The recent infections were detected in the municipalities of Assis in 2019 and Eldorado in 2020, both located in the interior of São Paulo State. The researchers used a technique called metagenomics, allowing them to analyze genetic material recovered from environmental samples instead of having to isolate and cultivate the virus in a lab. According to the team, two men aged 63 and 52 died days after suffering the same symptoms: fever, muscle and abdominal pain, nausea, and exhaustion. They also suffered from bleeding, kidney failure, and loss of consciousness (Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, May 7). It is suspected that they were infected after inhaling viral particles from the urine, feces, or saliva of contaminated rodents in the wild. No infections by the pathogen were identified in the hospital environment. Since so few cases have been recorded to date, it is not possible to be sure about how the virus is transmitted.