'Aids-like' disease found
- Published: 25 Aug 2012 at 19.22
- Online news:
Researchers have identified a mysterious new disease that has left scores of people in Asia, notably in Thailand, and some in the United States with Aids-like symptoms even though they are not infected with HIV.
The patients’ immune systems become damaged, leaving them unable to fend off germs as healthy people do. What triggers this is not known, but the disease does not seem to be contagious."This is another kind of acquired immune deficiency that is not inherited and occurs in adults, but doesn’t spread the way Aids does through a virus," said Dr Sarah Browne, a scientist at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.She helped lead the study with researchers in Thailand and Taiwan where most of the cases have been found since 2004. Their report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday."This is absolutely fascinating. I’ve seen probably at least three patients in the last 10 years or so" who might have had this, said Dr Dennis Maki, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.It’s still possible that an infection of some sort could trigger the disease, even though the disease itself doesn’t seem to spread person-to-person, he said.The disease develops around age 50 on average but does not run in families, which makes it unlikely that a single gene is responsible, Browne said.Some patients have died of overwhelming infections, including some Asians now living in the US, although Browne could not estimate how many.The virus that causes Aids – HIV – destroys T-cells, key soldiers of the immune system that fight germs. The new disease...
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