Mystery illness hits Navajos

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The Independent Online
DOCTORS in northern New Mexico and Arizona are struggling to diagnose a mystery illness that has killed 11 people, all of them young and most of them Navajo Indians, writes David Usborne in Washington.

Medical researchers admit to being baffled by the ailment, which causes its victims to suffer flu-like symptoms at first. It quickly worsens and within hours can lead to an accumulation of liquid in the lungs and death, effectively by drowning.

Two hundred doctors and researchers are trying to identify the cause of the illness - known for the time being as Unexplained Respiratory Distress Syndrome or URDS - at hospitals in the region as well as in Washington DC and at the Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.