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Greek Disease Mystery Solved

The virus that has killed 3 people and infected 39 more in Greece has been identified as a member of the human enterovirus family. Preliminary tests by Greece's Special Infections Control Center suggest it could be Coxsackie B.

Identifying the precise strain will not make treatment any easier. Doctors can only treat the symptoms of the infection rather than the virus itself, says a spokesperson for the World Health Organization's Communicable Disease and Surveillance Response center.

The Greek government has closed all schools and universities across the country, to try to stop the spread of the virus. Cases of infection have been reported in most regions of Greece. But it appears that the peak of the outbreak has passed.

"They also set up a monitoring system to ensure that anybody that went to hospital with acute respiratory syndrome would be reported - and the number of cases has been going down rapidly," says the WHO spokesperson.

In all cases, influenza-like, symptoms appeared at first, followed by inflammation of heart muscle, which can cause serious tissue damage. A strain of the Coxsackie virus has been a prime suspect. In 1997, Coxsackie B killed 30 children in Malaysia over three months.

See news story ?Mystery Diseases Strike Worldwide?, click here.

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