Mysterious Virus Spreads: Did The SARS-Linked Virus Originate From The Middle East?

By Staff Reporter on February 11, 2013 5:00 PM EST

H5N1 virus
A colorized image shows H5N1 avian flu strain viruses (gold) grown in dog kidney cells (green). (Photo: Flickr.com/uafcde)

British medical doctors have announced that a tenth confirmed patient has fallen victim to a new strand of coronavirus, a mysterious disease that's traced to SARS. The new coronavirus was first identified last year.

The new patient is a resident of the UK and is currently held in an intensive care unit of a Manchester hospital.

Similar to SARS, a bird flu virus that killed approximately 800 victims during the global epidemic of 2003, the latest strain causes ailments similar to the common cold. What's more, individuals suffering from coronaviruses are also susceptible to more severe symptoms including acute breathing problems and even kidney failure.

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Thus far, it is unconfirmed whether the latest mysterious virus is contagious between humans. Experts believe the virus is passed from animals including bats or camels.

Previous studies suggested that the latest virus was widespread. However, the last series of cases are all linked to the Middle East. According to officials, the latest patient had recently visited the Middle East and the country of Pakistan.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) of Britain reported 10 confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far. Five people in Saudi Arabia (three died), two in Jordan (both died), two in Britain, and one in Qatar are diagnosed with the rare virus.

Despite the deadliness of the latest coronavirus, Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, assures the public that the chance of contracting and dying from the virus is extremely low.

Our assessment is that the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains extremely low and the risk to travelers to the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries remains very low ... No travel restrictions are in place but people who develop severe respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, within ten days of returning from these countries should seek medical advice and mention which countries they have visited."

Finally, officials still recommended countries test anyone with unexplained pneumonia for the virus for precautionary measures.

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