The emerging "novel coronavirus", a SARS-like virus , which has appeared in patients in the U.K. and the Middle East is a cause for concern, said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in spite of no reported cases in the U.S.
To date, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 14 confirmed cases of human infection with novel coronavirus, or NCoV, including eight deaths. Of the total number, seven cases, including five deaths, have been reported from Saudi Arabia.
The most recent patient was a 69-year-old male from Saudi Arabia who was hospitalized on Feb. 10 and died 9 days later, according to the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia. The new NCoV is part of a family of viruses that cause a variety of ailments including the common cold and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). A global SARS outbreak in 2003 killed about 800 people worldwide, including dozens in Taiwan.
In a report released Thursday, the CDC said that anyone who developed severe acute lower respiratory illness within "10 days after traveling from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries should continue to be evaluated according to current guidelines. "
The NCoV virus began raising alarm flags among health organizations worldwide last fall, as several patients who had recently traveled in the Middle East landed in hospitals in the U.K. and Denmark. All cases in the U.K. can be traced back to a 60-year-old man with a history of recent travel to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, who developed respiratory illness on Jan. 24 before returning to the UK on Jan. 28, according to the CDC. He was hospitalized on Jan. 31 with severe lower respiratory tract disease and has been receiving intensive care.
Respiratory specimens from the patient taken on Feb. 1 tested positive for influenza A (H1N1) virus and for novel coronavirus infection, said CDC. A second patient subsequently developed a serious infection requiring intensive care and died, while a third was infected but didn't require hospitalization.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the following signs and symptoms were reported in the confirmed cases of human illness; acute severe respiratory illness, breathing problems, fever and shortness of breath. Almost all patients developed pneumonia and there were some reported cases of kidney failure.
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