Saturday, March 16, 2013

Human-to-Human Transmission of Novel Coronavirus

"This recent cluster provides the first clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of this novel coronavirus, coinfection of this novel coronavirus with another pathogen (influenza A), and a case of mild illness associated with this novel coronavirus infection," wrote the researchers.
A disease of unknown origin that has been infecting people who live in or traveled to the Middle East has sickened another person, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

The disease, which was first reported in Sept. 2012, is a coronavirus. That's a family of viruses that range from the common cold to SARS, a respiratory disease that killed 800 people during a 2003 global epidemic.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report telling doctors to be on the lookout for the new infection.

According to the CDC's report, a 60-year-old man who had visited Pakistan and Saudi Arabia before coming to the U.K. Jan. 28 was hospitalized three days later with a severe respiratory infection. Lab tests were taken and the man tested positive for the new coronavirus plus the H1N1 flu virus.

The next infected family member became ill with a severe respiratory disease on Feb. 6 and later died after being treated in intensive care.

The third patient -- an adult female -- also had contact with the first patient and became sick Feb. 5, but had a milder respiratory infection and did not need to be hospitalized. Only the first patient had traveled outside the U.K., which lead British health officials to conclude person-to-person transmission likely occurred in this family.

The latest patient is a 39-year-old man from Saudi Arabia who developed symptoms of the new respiratory infection Feb. 24 and was hospitalized four days later. He died March 2nd, the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia informed WHO, and a preliminary investigation suggests the patient had no contact with anyone previously reported to have the infection.

The WHO is calling the disease nCoV for "novel coronavirus." To date, the disease has infected 15 people, killing nine.

All illnesses have occurred in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and the United Kingdom beginning in April 2012 through February 2013. No cases have been reported in the U.S., but health officials warned doctors to notify the CDC immediately if a patient comes in with a severe respiratory illness within 10 days of traveling from the Arabian Peninsula or nearby countries: Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

The agency's guidance also applied for people who are sick who have come in contact with a traveler to these countries, given recent evidence that showed the virus was transmitted to family members. Previously, health officials had suspected the virus spread to humans from animals like bats or camels.

"WHO encourages all Member States (MS) to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns.," the agency said in its March 12 statement. "WHO is currently working with international experts and countries where cases have been reported to assess the situation and review recommendations for surveillance and monitoring."

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