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Fun challenge using GIDEON to speculate about undiagnosed deaths in Zambia

Marjorie Pollack, an editor at ProMED, recently speculated about the cause of deaths in Zambia using GIDEON:

Speculation on a differential diagnosis with the symptoms given above — vomiting and backache — is a “fun” challenge. Checking the possible list of infectious agents that would produce the clinical spectrum of a cluster of severe, fatal infections associated with vomiting and backache in Zambia using the GIDEON (Global infectious disease and epidemiology network) database, comes up with a list of the following possible diagnoses (and probability of occurrence) — which includes viral, bacterial, and parasitic diseases:

Rift Valley fever (30.8 percent probability), leptospirosis (27.5 percent), influenza (2.4 percent), malaria (11.5 percent), meningitis — bacterial (9.2 percent), relapsing fever (3.2 percent), septicemia –bacterial (1.8 percent), legionellosis (1.4 percent). Other diseases mentioned with a less than one percent probability include: typhoid and enteric fever, _Bunyaviridae_ infections — misc., rabies, tuberculosis, typhus — endemic, _Streptococcus suis_ infection, yellow fever, trypanosomiasis — African, Q-fever, brucellosis, yersiniosis, ornithosis, trichinosis, infectious mononucleosis or EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) infection, poliomyelitis, toxoplasmosis.

Even more fun is the possible list of other diseases that might produce the same type of cluster, but anywhere in the world (not necessarily seen in Zambia at present). This list (according to the GIDEON network would include: hantavirus infections — Old World, Ebola, Lassa fever, typhus — scrub, dengue, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever to mention a few.

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