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SARS-Like Virus Spreads To Saudi Arabia, Kills Two

SARS-Like Virus Spreads To Saudi Arabia, Kills Two

A SARS-like virus that caused a global alert earlier this year is on the move again, spreading to Saudi Arabia where it has already killed two people.

The total number of cases of the SARS-like virus has reached six, the World Health Organization reported.

An international alert for the SARS-like virus went out in September after a man in Qatar came down with the virus, which Reuters reported had not yet been seen in humans. Since the virus spread there, health officials had been vigilant to keep track of its progress.

“The additional cases have been identified as part of the enhanced surveillance in Saudi Arabia (3 cases, including 1 death) and Qatar (1 case),” the WHO said.

The SARS-like virus is known as a conavirus, sharing some of the symptoms of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. After first showing up in China in 2002, SARS affected about 8,000 people worldwide, killing close to 800.

Health officials said they are doing a much better job keeping track of the spread of the new SARS-like virus than the original SARS outbreak, ABC News reported.

“It took the outbreak in Hong Kong and subsequent spread to bring that to our attention,” Dr. William Schaffner, who chairs preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University. said of the 2003 SARS outbreak. “The surveillance for viruses that cause disease, particularly respiratory viruses, has improved enormously over the last 10 years worldwide. What happened here demonstrates that.”

The SARS-like virus has no formal name, though scientists at the British and Dutch laboratories where it was identified have been calling it “London1_novel CoV 2012″.

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3 Responses to “SARS-Like Virus Spreads To Saudi Arabia, Kills Two”

  1. Pandemic Twenty-Thirteen

    Whoops you need to correct this! The index case was in Saudi Arabia back in June when a man in his 60s died so this is Saudi SARS! It is likely that it cannot be contained because the Saudis have been concealing cases and belatedly reporting them only after samples have tested positive abroad… They
    went ahead with the Hajj pilgrimage in October. When an Eygptian doctor working in Saudi informed the world they chucked him out! See Promed for the full story or Facebook 'Pandemic Twenty-Thirteen'. Good luck

  2. Pandemic Twenty-Thirteen

    Danuta Skowronski has made some interesting points on a Promed mail comment posted on Christmas Day – re the significance of the distinction between the 'Index Case' (first one identified by the systems) and 'Patient Zero' (first person to contract/develop disease). She makes the point that the latter PZ potentially yields far more useful data than the former…but is unknown in Saudi SARS and may well never be identified.