Posted On Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 09:19:32 AM
London: Health officials in Britain announced on Monday athat they have detected a SARS-like killer respiratory disease virus in a severely ill patient from Qatar. British officials alerted World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday of the new virus in a man transferred from Qatar for treatment in London.
|In 2003, SARS killed some 800 people, mostly in Asia,
in a short-lived epidemic
He had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, where another man died of a similar illness earlier this year. The man in the new case was sickened by a coronavirus, from a family of viruses which causes most common colds but also includes the virus that causes SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.
In 2003, SARS killed some 800 people, mostly in Asia, in a short-lived epidemic. The WHO, however, said on Monday it is too soon to say whether there could be an outbreak. “It's still very early days,'' said Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman.
“At the moment we have two sporadic cases and there are still a lot of holes to be filled in.” Hartl said it was unclear how the virus is spread and there was no evidence of humanto- human transmission.
Coronaviruses are typically spread in the air but Hartl said scientists were considering the possibility that patients were infected directly by animals.
“All possible avenues of infection are being explored right now,” he said. So far there is no connection between the cases except for a history of travel in Saudi Arabia.
SARS was first spread to humans from civet cats in China. Hartl said no other countries have so far reported any similar cases to WHO. Britain's Health Protection Agency and the World Health Organization said in statements that the 49-year-old Qatari national became ill on September 3, having previously traveled to Saudi Arabia.
He was transferred from Qatar to Britain on September 11 and is being treated in an intensive care unit at a London hospital for problems including kidney failure. Respiratory viruses aren't usually known to cause serious kidney problems.
The Health Protection Agency said it was unaware of any ties the patient had to Britain and that he likely was in a private clinic in the Middle East before being transferred to the London hospital. It said none of the health workers involved in his treatment had fallen ill.
WHO said virus samples from the patient are almost identical to those of a60-year-old Saudi national who died earlier this year. The agency isn't currently recommending travel restrictions and said the source of infection remains unknown.