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Is a new SARS-like virus spreading in the Middle East?

Posted by on Nov. 25, 2012 at 5:06 PM
  • 11 Replies

PHARMA & HEALTHCARE 
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11/24/2012 @ 9:29PM |49,582 views

Is a New SARS-like Virus Spreading in the Middle East?

Coronavirus image credit: Wikipedia

As with most emerging epidemics, we usually ignore them until people start dying. If the same logic applies here, it’s time to begin paying attention to the new SARS-like virus found in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. While only six cases have been identified so far, two of the patients died, suggesting that the survival rate isn’t stellar.

According to Reuters, the WorldHealth Organization (WHO) originally  issued an international alert in late September saying a virus previously unknown in humans had infected a Qatari man who had recently been in Saudi Arabia, where another man with the same virus had died.

On Friday, November 23, the WHO said in anoutbreak update that it had registered four more cases and one of the new patients had died.

“The additional cases have been identified as part of the enhanced surveillance in Saudi Arabia (3 cases, including 1 death) and Qatar (1 case),” the WHO statement said.

The new virus is a coronavirus with similar symptoms to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which emerged in China in 2002 and killed around a 10th of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide. Typical symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing and high fever.  It spreads like other respiratory viruses, through releasing viral particles from coughing and sneezing which then find new hosts in the general vicinity.

The WHO said investigations were being conducted into the likely source of the infection, the method of exposure, and the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the virus.

“Close contacts of the recently confirmed cases are being identified and followed-up,” it said.

It added that so far, only the two most recently confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia were epidemiologically linked — they were from the same family, living in the same household.

“Preliminary investigations indicate that these two cases presented with similar symptoms of illness. One died and the other recovered,” the WHO’s statement said. (Source: Reuters Health)

Grounds for alarm?  No, but there’s enough information coming out now that paying attention is warranted.

You can find me on Twitter @neuronarrative and at my website, The Daily Brain.

by on Nov. 25, 2012 at 5:06 PM
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Replies (1-10):
muslimah
by on Nov. 25, 2012 at 5:43 PM

 Maybe it was invented to keep the Americans away lol.


Click to join

pampire
by on Nov. 25, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Oh yay.....On a lighter note there is a local discount grocery chain called Saars'.  I firsst learned of them when the SARS outbreak was in the news.

muslimahpj
by Ruby Member on Nov. 25, 2012 at 6:06 PM

LOL. You know you will get in 'trouble' for that. :p

Quoting muslimah:

 Maybe it was invented to keep the Americans away lol.


mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Nov. 25, 2012 at 6:23 PM

sigh, we know how you really feel. I'm sorry but it's difficult to defend ya'll when you say shit like this. Of courst that would be the stupidist plan ever - hopefully, it is contained in Saudi and there isn't a large loss of life anywhere.

Quoting muslimah:

 Maybe it was invented to keep the Americans away lol.


tweety101149
by Platinum Member on Nov. 25, 2012 at 6:45 PM
1 mom liked this

When any disease affects a group of people and the disease is of unknown origin is it scarry.  Since the pilgrimmmage to Saudi is right around the corner the concerns are great, and precautions should be taken.    I feel terrible for anyone who suffers from this disease. I hope they find a cure before anyone else dies. 

 

Middle East SARS-like mystery virus may come from animals

The World Health Organization says there are no additional infections from the mysterious SARS-like virus that has killed one person in Saudi Arabia and left another in critical condition in Britain. 

"Given the severity of the two laboratory confirmed cases, WHO is continuing to monitor the situation in order to provide the appropriate response, expertise and support to its Member States," the WHO said in a statement. 

Britain's Health Protection Agency has published an early genetic sequence of the new respiratory virus that shows it is most closely linked to bat viruses, and scientists say camels, sheep or goats might end up being implicated too. 

Officials say the virus isn't as infectious as SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed hundreds of people, mostly in Asia, in a 2003 global outbreak. 

In Geneva, WHO spokesman Glenn Thomas told reporters Friday that so far the signs are that the virus is "not easily transmitted from person to person" - but analyses are ongoing. The agency said it's too early to tell how big a threat the new virus will be since it is unknown how exactly it spreads and whether it will evolve into a more dangerous form.

The virus is a type of coronavirus, a family of viruses that cause the common cold as well as SARS. Global health officials suspect two victims from the Middle East may have caught it from animals.

 "It's a logical possibility to consider any animals present in the region in large numbers," said coronavirus expert Dr. Ralph Baric, an associate research professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Biologists now need to go into the area and take samples from any animals they can get their hands on, including camels and goats," he said. Baric said it was crucial to find out how widespread the virus is in animals and what kind of contact might be risky for people. 

Baric suggested bats might be spreading the virus directly to humans since the two confirmed infections happened months apart. "If there was an established transmission pattern from other animals, we probably would have seen a lot more cases," he said. 

WHO said it is considering the possibility the new coronavirus sickened humans after direct contact with animals. The agency is now working with experts in the Middle East to figure out how the two confirmed cases got infected but could not share details until the investigation was finished. 

One patient was a Saudi Arabian man who died several months ago while the other is a Qatari national who traveled to Saudi Arabia before falling ill and is currently in critical but stable condition in a London hospital. 

Earlier this week, WHO issued a global alert asking doctors to be on guard for any potential cases of the new respiratory virus, which also causes kidney failure.

 Saudi officials have already warned that next month's annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage, which brings millions to Saudi Arabia from all around the world, could allow the virus to spread. As a precautionary measure, they are advising pilgrims to keep their hands clean and wear masks in crowded places. 

Experts said knowing where a virus comes from provides clues on how to stop it. 

"This means we could prevent the fire before it starts instead of rushing towards it with fire trucks and water hoses afterwards," said Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota. 

Osterholm said it was possible bats had simply passed on the virus from other animals and that there could be a complicated transmission chain that ultimately ended in humans. 

Viruses reproduce as they infect animals and people, giving them more chances to evolve into a deadlier version. 

"We don't know enough about coronaviruses to predict which mutations might make them more lethal or transmissible," Osterholm said. "But you don't want to tempt genetic fate with microbes because you're bound to lose most times."

© 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57522223/middle-east-sars-like-mystery-virus-may-come-from-animals/

butterfly on headlynda  




rfurlongg
by on Nov. 25, 2012 at 8:49 PM
Interesting. I hope they are able to track it well and prevent an epidemic during the Hajj.
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muslimahpj
by Ruby Member on Nov. 25, 2012 at 9:15 PM


Quoting rfurlongg:

Interesting. I hope they are able to track it well and prevent an epidemic during the Hajj.

Hajj ended a few weeks ago and I havent heard of it spreading elsewhere so far.

rfurlongg
by on Nov. 25, 2012 at 9:17 PM
Good to know.

Quoting muslimahpj:


Quoting rfurlongg:

Interesting. I hope they are able to track it well and prevent an epidemic during the Hajj.

Hajj ended a few weeks ago and I havent heard of it spreading elsewhere so far.

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muslimah
by on Nov. 26, 2012 at 11:43 AM
1 mom liked this

 

Quoting muslimahpj:

LOL. You know you will get in 'trouble' for that. :p

Quoting muslimah:

 Maybe it was invented to keep the Americans away lol.


 You know me well enough to know I don't give a rats ass.


Click to join

mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Nov. 26, 2012 at 12:14 PM
1 mom liked this

Lovely, I just walked past a group of military visitors from Saudi, Kuwait, and UAE and a couple of them were coughing - fing lovely.

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