SARS-like Virus Infects Four In Saudi Arabia, Two Killed

By Staff Reporter on November 24, 2012 9:15 AM EST

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) (Photo: Reuters)

Six new cases of a new, deadly, SARS-like virus has killed two victims in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, causing a raised alert from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The new virus falls under the same family as the deadly SARS. According to WHO, the U.N. health agency, an international alert on the new strain was reported in late September when a Qatari man was infected by the virus. When the man traveled to Saudi Arabia, a new incident was reported after another man was killed by the same virus.

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On Friday, 4 more cases were confirmed and a second patient has died from the rare and aggressive disease. WHO said, "The additional cases have been identified as part of the enhanced surveillance in Saudi Arabia (3 cases, including 1 death) and Qatar (1 case)."

According to medical scientists, the new virus is known as a coronavirus and shares many similar symptoms of SARS. Coronavirus is an airborne contagion that can be spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Victims will experience fever, coughing, and respiratory difficulties.

WHO is still undergoing tests to study the likely source of the infection, its method of exposure, and the potentiality of human-to-human transmission of the rare coronavirus.

What's more, WHO also revealed that the two most recent cases in Saudi Arabia showed strong evidence of epidemiology - the two individuals were from the same family, living in the same household. However, WHO reported: "Preliminary investigations indicate that these two cases presented with similar symptoms of illness. One died and the other recovered."

Two other family members also suffered similar flu-like symptoms and once again, one victim died and another is recovering. Interestingly, when WHO conducted tests on the recovery patient, coronavirus was tested negative.

For now, WHO urges all member states to keep a close eye on developing severe acute respiratory infections. "Until more information is available, it is prudent to consider that the virus is likely more widely distributed than just the two countries which have identified cases."

In 2002, a SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in China eventually led to 8,000 infections worldwide. 916 victims killed by SARS were confirmed.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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