Frenchman Dies From SARS-Like Virus; It Is A Threat To The Entire World Says WHO [REPORT]

By iScience Times Staff Reporter on May 29, 2013 1:55 AM EDT

Just a day after the World Health Organization called it a threat to the entire world, a 65-year-old Frenchman became the latest victim of the SARS-like virus that killed nearly half the people who contracted it.

The unnamed man, who is said to have contracted the virus while on a trip to the United Arab Emirates in April, died at a hospital in northern France Tuesday. His hospital roommate has also fallen ill and is currently in an isolated intensive care unit in Lille, officials told the Associated Press.

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The virus has been dubbed MERS-CoV or Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, as it is mostly found in people who had traveled to the Middle East. The first casualty was in September 2012 when a Qatari man died in a British hospital after contracting the virus. Countries in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, is the worst affected as a total of 22 people have contracted the virus and so far 10 deaths have been reported in the Kingdom alone, WHO said in a statement.

Globally, the numbers are slowly increasing with over 44 cases being reported and 22 proving fatal, according to the Associated Press.

Though little is known about the behavior pattern of MERS-CoV, like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) the virus has been known to cause pneumonia. But unlike SARS, which claimed 775 lives worldwide after it originated in South China in 2002, person-to-person transmission appears to be very slow.

Click here to read more about the virus.

In the meantime, WHO director-general Margaret Chan has termed the virus a threat to the entire world and has urged all nations to put their resources together to tackle the virus.

It "is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself," Chan said in her closing remarks at the 66th World Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday. "We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat.

"We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these questions, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond," she said.

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