Deadly New Virus Remains Medically Mysterious
Friday, May 31, 2013
In the same family as SARS, but different
Margaret Chan, director-general of the United Nations World Health Organization, says a new coronavirus recently found in humans in a”threat to the entire world,” CNN reports.
The virus has infected 44 people world wide, most of them in the Middle East, though cases have been identified in France, Germany and the United Kingdom. More than half of those afflicted have died.
Chan asserts the problem is not one any country can manage by itself.
"We do not know where the virus hides in nature,. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we have these answers. We are empty-handed when it comes to prevention,” CNN quotes Chan as saying. The virus is thought to have originated with bats, several reports say, but researchers are not sure whether the spread to humans is from contaminated food or some other environmental source.
According to BBC story, medical authorities say evidence suggests the virus is not highly contagious from person to person, so there's no need to panic. But they also say the virulence of the illness, which can cause multi-organ failure and death, is a warning against complacency.
Researchers are not sure whether some infected persons may have had only mild symptoms.
A family cluster of the new virus, called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), is described
in the New England Journal of Medicine. The new virus is from the same family of
pathogens that caused SARS, but it is different and does not spread with the same ease.
No cases have yet been reported in the US, but the CDC is recommending that infection prevention control guidelines developed for SARS be in place for any patients infected with or suspected of having MERS.