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A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Fri 23 Jan 2009
Source: Puk Media [in Arabic, machine trans., edited]

Mysterious disease kills 5 people in northern Babil
According to Hassan, the Chairman of the Commission Services in the
Province, a mysterious disease, which doctors have not been able to
diagnose so far, has spread in Babil province in the past few days.
The regions of Al-Ghazali southeast of the province and the northern
Babil Jurf al-Sakhar, have recorded a number of casualties from the
disease. Doctors believe that a type of fungus infected the lungs and
killed the injured 5 days after infection.

He pointed out that the 7 cases and deaths from the mysterious
disease have occurred in the region of Al-Ghazali 41 km (25.5 mi)
south of Al-Hillah, and Jurf al-Sakhar 30 km (19 mi) north. He called
on the Ministry of Health to work to determine the nature of the
disease, diagnosis, and provision of medical supplies and medicines
necessary for treatment.

It should be noted that last summer [2008] there was an outbreak of
cholera in Babil that spread to several regions in the province as
announced by the local government. Particularly affected was the area
of Al-Ghazali and surrounding areas, where recently there was also an
outbreak of measles.

Communicated by:

[The machine translation above is less than perfect but suggests that
there have been 7 cases and 5 fatalities related to a respiratory
illness in Babil province of Iraq during the past few days. At
present the diagnosis is unknown, but local physicians are suspecting
a fungal etiology. Apparently the course of the disease is rapid with
fatalities occurring within 5 days of onset of illness.

In the absence of further information, it is very difficult to
speculate on the possible etiology, especially a fungal etiology
associated with a rapid down hill course. One wonders if the actual
disease is associated with an acute respiratory distress syndrome
(ARDS), producing a "white out" effect on chest x-rays. But, rather
than speculate further, it is more prudent to request more
information from knowledgeable sources on the clinical picture,
laboratory testing performed to date, and equally important, the
epidemiology of this apparent cluster -- does there appear to be
person-to-person transmission, what is the age distribution of cases,
is there a possible common animal exposure?

Babil province is south of Baghdad and can be located on the map of
Iraq at
For the HealthMap/ProMED interactive map with links to other recent
ProMED-mail postings on health related events in Iraq and neighboring
countries, see <http://healthmap.org/promed/en?g=98229&v=33,43.8,5>. - Mod.MPP]