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New Australian virus infects people

5:13pm, April 8, 2003

From Atlanta, at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases

Yet another virus carried by fruit bats has been found to cause human illness. After the discoveries of Hendra virus and Nipah virus in recent years, scientists in Australia have identified a virus that devastates pigs' reproductive capacity and has caused illness in at least two people.

Both Hendra and Nipah viruses, members of the family Paramyxoviridae, have been linked to fruit bats in southeast Asia and Australia. The new virus, also a paramyxovirus, has been dubbed Menangle virus. It was discovered after hundreds of sows on a large swine farm near Menangle, New South Wales began having fewer litters, fewer piglets per litter, and deformed or aborted young, reports Peter D. Kirkland, a virologist and veterinarian at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute in Menangle.

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