Erich Burger, of Baltimore, is recovering at home from a rare and often fatal disease. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)
The problems started after Erich Burger returned from an unforgettable safari in Botswana and Zambia last month.
The Baltimore software engineer got sick the day after he got home. He headed to a community hospital after about a week of fever and chills, thinking he might have malaria given his recent travel to Africa.
Clinicians took a detailed travel history, admitted him to the intensive care unit as his blood pressure plummeted and ordered blood tests. A sharp-eyed hematology technician discovered when she looked in her microscope that he was suffering from a disease so rare in the United States that it has been seen only 40 times in the past 50 years. The disease is one of the few “universally lethal” infections: It always kills unless it is treated, and …
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