New, Lethal SARS-like Virus Spreading Worldwide

New, Lethal SARS-like Virus Spreading Worldwide
New, Lethal SARS-like Virus Spreading Worldwide

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a new coronavirus recently detected in humans is continuing to spread across the world. On May 23, WHO reported 44 known infections, with 22 having resulted in death. CNN is reporting today that the numbers have jumped to 49 infected, 27 dead.

[UPDATE 6/3/2013: According to the WHO, three new cases of the MERS-CoV infection have been detected in Italy. The total now stands at 53 known infections, with 30 having resulted in death.] 

The WHO has deemed this new strain “MERS-CoV,” the Middle East respiratory symptom coronavirus. Many of the cases have occurred on the Arabian Peninsula, but people have died of the infection in other countries, including France and the United Kingdom.

This new SARS-like virus can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that symptoms (eg, fever and cough) are severe and can progress to pneumonia and kidney failure. Clinicians are reminded that MERS-CoV infection should be considered even with atypical signs and symptoms (eg, diarrhea) in patients who are immunocompromised.

According to the WHO, the mode of transmission is not yet known. Cases have been identified in eight countries including France, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Health care providers are advised to maintain vigilance. Recent travelers returning from the Middle East who develop severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations.

For more information call (202) 974-3000 or visit the WHO website