Middle Eastern Coronavirus Claims New Victims
November 25, 2012

Two Dead As A Result Of New SARS-Like Virus

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A new coronavirus, similar in nature to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), has infected six and resulted in two deaths in the Middle East, various media outlets have reported this weekend.

According to BBC News, the number of reported cases, as well as the number of fatalities linked with the respiratory ailment, doubled on Friday, as a second person was reported killed and three additional infections had been reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Both fatalities occurred in Saudi Arabia, and reports of the virus had been limited to that country and Qatar thus far, though one man had been transported to the UK for treatment, they added.

The WHO initially issued a global warning about the disease is September, cautioning that a Qatar man who had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia had become infected with a virus that had previously never been detected in humans, where a second man had died from the same disease, Kate Kelland of Reuters reported on Friday.

The new disease "shares some of the symptoms of SARS," a coronavirus that surfaced in China in 2002, killing approximately 10% of the 8,000 people who contracted it worldwide, Kelland added. Among those symptoms are coughing, difficulty breathing, and high fever.

"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," said Forbes contributor David DiSalvo. "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."

In a statement, WHO officials said heath officials should "continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections," and until additional information becomes available, it would be "prudent to consider that the virus is likely more widely distributed than just the two countries which have identified cases."

They suggested anyone suffering from "unexplained pneumonias" should be tested for the new virus, even if they had not traveled to either Qatar or Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, they said they could continue to work with officials in both countries to gain a better understanding of the disease, and noted additional epidemiological and scientific studies were required to learn more about this SARS-like ailment.