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Mysterious Virus Spreads: First Case of Coronavirus Hits the UK Following 9 Cases in the Middle East

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Feb 11, 2013 04:37 PM EST

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A mysterious virus is starting to spread across the globe. A SARS-like illness has killed five people in the Middle East and has now claimed its first victim in the United Kingdom.

According to CBS, the latest case marks the 10th known case of this mysterious virus which is being called a coronavirus by international health officials. Coronaviruses can cause illnesses that range from a regular cold to SARS, which killed off 800 people throughout the world in 2003.

The latest infected person is a UK resident who was in the Middle East and Pakistan, where they likely picked up the virus. They are in intensive care in a Manchester hospital. However health officials says the risk of the virus is still low.

The patient, a U.K. resident who had been in the Middle East and Pakistan, is in the intensive care unit of a Manchester hospital, according to a statement Monday from Britain's Health Protection Agency. Overall risk however, remains low, officials said.

"Our assessment is that the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains extremely low and the risk to travelers to the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries remains very low," Professor John Watson, head of respiratory diseases department at the agency, said in statement, according to CBS. "No travel restrictions are in place but people who develop severe respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, within ten days of returning from these countries should seek medical advice and mention which countries they have visited."

Some patients who had the virus had symptoms such as kidney failure and acute breathing problems.

According to CBS, there is not proof that the virus is highly contagious among humans but some believe that the virus can be transmitted from animals like bats or camels as well. Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases researcher at the University of Minnesota, said that bats likely passed the virus on to other animals which could cause a chain that leads directly to humans.

The nine other cases occurred in the Middle East, but the World Health Organization says the virus may be more widespread. Five of the cases occurred in Saudi Arabia and three of those were fatal. There were also two cases in Qatar and two fatal cases in Jordan.

The World Health Organization recommends that people who come down with an unexplained pneumonia should get tested for this mystery virus.


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