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Deadly Virus Could Hit U.S.
A new virus, similar to SARS is killing people worldwide. Like HIV and SARS, it’s transmitted person-to-person.
So far, the recently discovered virus has hit three people in Britain and has been confirmed in a few other countries. Novel Coronavirus is part of the SARS family and was unknown in humans until a few months ago. Health officials say the risk to the population remains low.
Novel Coronavirus, or NCoV – was identified in a patient that was part of a family cluster according to the Health Protection Agency. This latest case brings the total number of confirmed cases globally to 12, of which four have been diagnosed in Britain, the HPA said. Of the total, five have died. Most of the infected lived or had recently been in the Middle East.
NCoV was identified when the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an international alert in September 2012 saying a virus previously unknown in humans had infected a Qatari man in Britain who had recently been in Saudi Arabia.
The virus belongs to the same family as SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – a coronavirus that emerged in China in 2002 and killed about a tenth of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide. Symptoms common to both viruses include severe respiratory illness, fever, coughing and breathing difficulties. Testing for the new coronavirus should be considered in patients with unexplained pneumonias, or in patients with unexplained severe, progressive or complicated respiratory illness not responding to treatment.
Coronaviruses are typically spread like other respiratory infections such as flu, travelling in airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Among the 12 laboratory-confirmed cases of NCoV to date, five are in Saudi Arabia, with three deaths; two are in Jordan, where both patients died; four are in Britain, where three are receiving treatment and the latest one is described as well; and one was in Germany in a
patient from Qatar who has since been discharged from medical care.