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British health officials warn a new deadly virus, similar to SARS, could spread from person to person. WHO officials are encouraging countries to be on the lookout for the new illness, as its origins remain unclear.
A new coronavirus is causing concern for the World Health Organization and medics everywhere over its ability to spread from person to person, as an eleventh case of the disease seems to prove.Out of these cases, five have resulted in death.
The virus has been registered in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and initially was thought to spread from animals, such as bats, to humans.
The outbreak of SARS in 2002 resulted in the deaths of more than 800 people and spread to more than 30 countries around the world.
Yet, say WHO officials, if the virus was easily transferrable, there would have been a lot more than 11 cases.
Influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and SARS
Acute lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) are a major worldwide health problem, particularly in childhood. About 30–50% of acute LRTIs are viral in origin; of these, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus are associated with the greatest disease burden in humans. Many different influenza A viruses occur naturally in animal reservoirs, and present a constant threat of zoonotic infections and global pandemics. The pandemic (H1N1) influenza virus that emerged in humans in 2009 contained a unique combination of genes originating in swine and the global human population was highly susceptible to the novel strain. The emergence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus in 2003, and the ensuing worldwide epidemic, highlights the fact that respiratory viral infections in humans may originate in animals. Preventative measures for influenza include annual vaccination and treatment with antiviral drugs such as the neuraminidase inhibitors oseltamivir and zanamivir. Subtype-dependent resistance to antivirals can develop and should be closely monitored.