Three American doctors have arrived in Italy to help combat a mystery virus which has killed sixty-three infants, all but one in the Naples area.
Three American doctors have arrived in Italy to help combat a mystery virus which has killed sixty-three infants, all but one in the Naples area. The death count reached that level on Sunday (11 February) when two boys aged six and eight months, died in a Neapolitan hospital.
SYNOPSIS: The Ministry of Health in Rome, where the American doctors conferred soon after their arrival on Monday (12 February) with Italian Health Minister, Signora Tina Anselmi. The Americans were among a number of specialist researchers who had been summoned by the World Health Organisation. Also taking part in the talks were three british doctors who had arrived in Rome the previous day. They discussed the case of a four-month-old baby girl who had died on Saturday night (10 February) at Baranello, east of Rome from a respiratory ailment similar to the Naples disease. Medical specimens from the dead girl had been sent to Naples for study and comparison.
The American experts were an epidemiologist, Dr William Baine, and virologists Gregory prince and Stephen Suffin.
The visual grandeur of the Bay of Naples is a contrast to the squalor of the city's slums, the worst in Europe, which produce the continent's highest infant mortality rate.
The baby boys who died on Sunday were Giorgio Polito, aged six months, and Alessandro Pezzullo, aged eight months. Like most of the earlier victims, they came from poor families.
Doctors in Naples have isolated the deadly virus, which attacks the breathing organs. They believe, however, that it is only one of the strains of virus which are firmly entrenched in the damp and overcrowded slums.
Doctors believe that thousands of infants have been afflicted by the ailment. They say that children or rich and middle class parents go to their own doctors, and receive prompt treatment. But the poor have to go into public hospitals, usually when it is too late to overcome the illness. Almost five hundred Neapolitan children die each year from respiratory ailments.