CDC Warns of Deadly Never-Before-Seen Virus Spreading From the Middle East

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning on Thursday to state and local officials about a dangerous new virus previously unseen in humans that has killed 8 people.

14 people have been sickened by the infection thus far. The majority of cases occurred in the Middle East. Three infections were also confirmed in Britain, suggesting that the virus passes person to person, rather than from an animal to humans.

So far no cases have been reported in the U.S. Five of the deaths were reported in Saudi Arabia, the latest being a 69-year-old man. Other fatalities took place in Jordan.

The virus is part of the coronavirus family, to which the common cold and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are also related. SARS killed about 800 people worldwide in 2003. Like SARS, the new virus is similar to viruses found in bats.

CDC analysis showed that the infection in Britain began with an old man who had recently travelled to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. He developed a respiratory illness on January 24. Tests showed the man was infected with the new virus and with H1N1, otherwise known as swine flu.

The other two cases in Britain were members of the man’s household, a male with an underlying illness who subsequently died, and a healthy female who did not need to be hospitalized and has recovered.

The CDC warns those who develop a severe acute lower respiratory illness within 10 days of returning from the Middle East should be evaluated according to current guidelines. Doctors should be watchful and any patient who returned from the Arabian Peninsula or surrounding countries whose "respiratory illness remains unexplained and who meet criteria for 'patient under investigation' should be reported immediately to CDC through state and local health departments."

Virus symptoms include severe acute respiratory illness with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Neither the CDC or the World Health Organization issued any travel restrictions.

Just last week the CDC issued a warning about suberbugs being reported in U.S. hospitals and nursing homes. Health officials are concerned that the superbug, Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), is highly resistant to antibiotics, usually the last line of defense against infection. CRE can infect the blood stream and when it does it is fatal to 50 percent of patients.

Source: Daily Mail