A mysterious disease similar to SARS, the bird flu that killed about 800 people during a global epidemic in 2003, has afflicted a 10th victim, this one in the United Kingdom.
British doctors announced there was a second UK victim of the new strand of coronavirus, which was first identified in September and has killed five people so far, the International Science Times
reported. The patient is being treated in an intensive care unit of a Manchester hospital.
The Health Protection Agency of Britain reported 10 confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far. Five people in Saudi Arabia, two in Jordan, two in Britain, and one in Qatar are diagnosed with the rare virus. Of that number, half of them have died, according to Science Times.
The symptoms of the latest strain are similar to the common cold, but victims are susceptible to more severe ailments like acute breathing problems and kidney failure.
It is unconfirmed whether the latest mysterious virus is contagious between humans. Experts believe the virus is passed from animals including bats or camels, Science Times reported.
The series of cases have been linked to the Middle East. The most recent patient visited the Saudi Arabia and Pakistan before contracting the disease.
The World Health Organisation said the latest infection was "a sporadic case" and did not alter the WHO's risk assessment. It added, however, that the new case "does indicate that the virus is persistent," Reuters reported.
SARS, which is also known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, is a coronavirus that emerged in China in 2002 and killed about 10 percent of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide. Symptoms included severe respiratory illness, fever, coughing, and breathing difficulties. The new strain shares symptoms of SARS.
The WHO said the new patient developed symptoms on Jan. 26. A series of laboratory tests of respiratory specimens showed the patient had contracted both an H1N1 swine flu infection and the NCoV infection.
Despite the fatal nature of the new strain, the HPA said the risk of contracting the disease is still very low.
"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," the HPA told Reuters.
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