A British micro-biologist will head a World Health Organisation (WHO) team being sent to combat a mystery disease which is reported to have killed hundreds of people in central Africa.
GV EXTERIOR London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. (2 shots)
GV INTERIOR Department of Micro-biology.
CU TILT DOWN TO Laboratory and Dr. Simpson carrying out tests.
SV ZOOM TO CU Dr. Simpson talking to Paul Toulmin Rothe. (13 shots)
DR. SIMPSON: "The disease starts as a fairly mild infection like many virus diseases with joint veins of fever headache, but it soon becomes a very much more severe illness. It's a prostrating disease with severe diarrhoea, and skin rash appears. The patients then develop a very severe bleeding tendency, bleeding extensively into the skin and into internal organs. There's extensive damage to the liver and to the spleen ad patients very often die."
TOULMIN-ROTHE: "Have many people died in this particular outbreak of the disease?"
SIMPSON: "We have unconfirmed reports for Zaire and Sudan that there are about 600 deaths. We have confirmed reports from Sudan that 62 people have died out of just over 150 confirmed cases. But we believe, of course, that there are very many more cases occurring in more remote areas in the Sudan. We know absolutely nothing about how this disease occurs in nature. We do not know the normal reservoir and that is one of the things we hope to determine."
TOULMIN-ROTHE: "With a virus of its kind of which almost nothing is known, and of a new sort, isn't there a danger that somebody, a member of your team even, might contract the disease and bring it back to England?"
SIMPSON: "Well, there is always, of course, this danger, but we shall be taking as many precautions as possible, which means that we shall always be wearing protective clothing, a biological respirator to prevent us perhaps inhaling particles of virus, and of course we shall be offering this sort of protective gear to the clinical and nursing staff in the southern Sudan."
Since July the viral infection has been reported form southern Sudan, Zaire, Nigeria and Sierra Leons. All the cases of the disease in Zaire are reported to have occurred within a 12 mile (20 kilometre) radius of the two of Yambuka. Kenya has halted all movement across the border between it and Sudan, and all flights between Juba in southern Sudan and Nairobi have been halted because of the wish not to spread infection.
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Background: A British micro-biologist will head a World Health Organisation (WHO) team being sent to combat a mystery disease which is reported to have killed hundreds of people in central Africa. Unconfirmed reports say at least 600 people have died from the virus in Zaire and the Sudan, and the Sudan government has released official figures showing that at least 60 people have died out of a confirmed 150 people with the disease.
SYNOPSIS: The scientist heading the WHO team is Dr. David Simpson, senior lecturer in micro-biology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Simpson said the current disease was closely related to the "Green Monkey" or Marburg virus, first identified by him and his team in 1967, but he added that it was not identical with the Marburg virus.
Dr. Simpson left London on Wednesday (20 October) for southern Sudan. Just before leaving he described the disease to Visnews reporter, Paul Toulmin-Rothe.