My good friend Desert Rose found the article concerning the deadly virus that spread from horses to human beings in australia. It was written by Philip Shenon in December 5, 1995 and is below.
I also recalled another viral incident some years ago when a platoon of Brazilian Special Operating Forces (SOF) were training in the jungle when some of them became ill from a strange virus and died.
Troy Rail, 24, an Australian jockey, was born to race. His father, Vic Rail, was a renowned horse trainer along Australia's sun-soaked Gold Coast, where thoroughbred racing is a sporting obsession second only to surfing.
Despite their shared mastery of horse care, neither father nor son could figure out why the horses in the family's stables outside Brisbane were beginning to die.
They wouldn't eat," Troy Rail said. "That was the first sign that something was wrong -- and then they really began to suffer." He shuddered at the memory of the animals' tortured deaths last year. "First they'd get a twitch," he said. "Then they began to shake, bashing themselves into the wall."
Within days, 14 horses had died, their lungs filling with so much blood and other fluid that they drowned. And whatever killed the horses was beginning to kill Vic Rail. The 49-year-old trainer died a week after he entered the hospital in September 1994, his lungs dissolving.
Only a few months before the attention of the world's scientists was drawn to an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the central African country of Zaire last spring, Australian scientists were scrambling to solve a viral mystery of their own.
It has turned out to be among the most ominous medical mysteries in this country's history -- a threat to human lives as well as to Australia's $2 billion horse racing industry.
After a yearlong investigation that is considered a model of its kind, Australian scientists have identified the killer, a cross-species virus related to measles, and believe they know how it was spread from the horses to Mr. Rail.
But the threat may not have been contained. Investigators were startled in October when a 35-year-old Australian horse farmer in Mackay, about 475 miles northwest of here, died after contracting the virus. Investigators say it may have lain dormant in his body for several months before killing him.
"There is no sense of panic, but there is a sense of urgency about this," said Steve Bishop, a spokesman in Brisbane, the capital of the state of Queensland, for the state Health Ministry. "There is a desire to determine exactly where this comes from."
The organism has been identified as a morbillivirus, the viral family that includes canine distemper and human measles. Equine morbillivirus, as the Australians called it, is the first member of that virus family to afflict more than one species.
It is also the first member of that virus family discovered in humans since measles were first described nearly 1,000 years ago by the Persian physician Rhazes.
Dr. Keith Murray, chief of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, which first isolated the virus, said investigators were trapping and taking blood samples from small animals in Queensland to test a theory about the source of the virus -- that the virus thrives in the bloodstream of small animals and becomes deadly only when transmitted to horses, humans and other large creatures.
"Everybody would love to know what the source is," Dr. Murray said in an interview at the high-security animal laboratory outside Melbourne, its futuristic autopsy rooms and crematory reachable only through a series of air locks and bolted steel doors. "If you know what the source is, you know how to deal with it."
Investigators say the farmer who died this fall, Mark Preston, may have been infected when he took part in the autopsy of a horse last year, a bloody procedure that would have allowed for transmission of the virus.
Mr. Rail, the first victim, apparently contracted the virus when he force-fed the dying horses in his stables, pushing his hand down their throats.
"Vic Rail was very dedicated to his horses and trying desperately to save them," said Chris Baldock, an epidemiologist who was a member of the scientific team sent to the Rail farm. "So he was left with scratches all over his arms and hands."
Medical investigators were called to the stables on Sept. 22, 1994, and took samples of lung, spleen and blood from horses that had died hours earlier. Initially, investigators suspected that the horses had died of poisoning.
But tests on the samples showed that the cause was a previously unidentified virus that caused the cells lining the blood vessels of the lungs to clump together, creating holes in the vessel walls so that fluid leaked into the lungs.
The Government declared a emergency, placing horses in other nearby stables under quarantine, and ordered a halt to racing around Brisbane for several days. Later tests on humans and horses in the area found no sign of the virus, which had apparently been contained by the quick action of the investigators.
But the scientists' peace of mind was shattered this fall with the death of Mr. Preston. Medical investigators have descended on his farm, performing blood tests on dozens of horses and on Mr. Preston's neighbors. The farmer's wife, a veterinarian, has tested negative for the virus.
Mr. Bishop, the ministry spokesman, said, "We're testing everybody."
Map shows the location of Brisbane, Australia.