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Japan Helps Malaysia Fight Virus

April 6, 1999

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ The Japanese government promised to send experts and donated money Tuesday to help Malaysia control a viral outbreak that has killed 89 people.

Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia, Issei Nomura, promised to send two Japanese experts to the Southeast Asian nation to help determine the nature of the virus believed to be spreading from pigs to humans.

The Japanese experts will join other scientists from the United States, Australia, Taiwan and Malaysia in attempting to name the virus and eliminate it. Japan also donated a check for $150,000.

The outbreak began in October and escalated earlier this year. Malaysia ordered hundreds of thousands of pigs slaughtered in an effort to halt the virus’ spread.

Government health experts initially said it was the Japanese encephalitis virus, but later found another strain that appeared related to the Hendra virus. Of the 89 fatalities so far, only 25 have died of Japanese encephalitis, the Bernama news agency said Tuesday.

Little is known about the Hendra virus, which was first detected in Australia. While Japanese encephalitis is transmitted from pigs to humans by mosquitos, the Hendra is spread by contact and contamination.

Symptoms are the same for both _ high fever, aches and eventual coma.

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain.

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