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Top Doc: U.S. Needs to Prepare for SARS-Like Virus Now

By    |   Monday, 03 June 2013 11:33 AM

The growing international threat from a new SARS-like virus should put U.S. health authorities on alert and prompt serious preparations for its possible arrival here, a top doctor tells Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg.
David Samadi, M.D., vice chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, says the virus would pose a significant danger if it arrives in the U.S. It has already sickened at least 51 people, killing 30, according to the latest U.N. health reports.
"We need to look out for … this," says Dr. Samadi. "It's good to be prepared and educate people out there to watch out. If the virus never shows up, then we're perfectly fine … [But] if it goes to this country, then we're going to be prepared. The hospitals obviously are going to be a very difficult situation because patients to patients can spread this. We'll see how this is going to pan out over the next few days or few weeks."
Dr. Samadi notes the virus has mostly been circulating in the Middle East, but has also spread to other areas.
"Whether it's going to come to this country or not, it's not clear, but it's newsworthy and it's good for people to know that if they have shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, any kind of kidney disease or kidney failure, they need to see their doctors immediately before they let this virus take over their system," Dr. Samadi advises.
His comments come as health officials say three Italians were treated for the virus over the weekend in the first known cases in that country. The Associated Press reported a 45-year-old man who recently returned from Jordan was hospitalized in Tuscany with a high fever, cough, and respiratory problems. Tuscan regional officials say ta young child who is related to the man and a work colleague also have the virus, but all three are in good condition.
The virus is related to SARS, which killed 800 people in a global epidemic in 2003. Most of the 51 cases reported so far by health authorities have been in the Mideast, but cases in France, Britain, and Germany also have been reported. Most of those infected had traveled to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, or Pakistan. International plane travel is often tied to global epidemics like this one, Dr. Samadi notes.
"A lot of times what happens with all these viruses is that the passengers and people during the flight, they kind of carry this all over the world," he explains. "So this one's considered the Middle East Respiratory Symptom Coronavirus; it's a virus which is very difficult to take care of. Also, it causes a lot of respiratory issues — cough, difficulty with breathing, and there are multiple people that have died as a result of this."
As a protection, he recommends those with symptoms cover their mouths and that everyone engage in frequent hand washing. If the virus arrives in the U.S., we might again see people wearing respiratory masks as a precaution, he notes.
"The big concern about this is that it's a very aggressive virus and it can affect the kidney and causes kidney disease," he says. "So it's something that we need to watch out for. And certainly and if you have any kind of cough that's not going away, if you have difficulty with breathing, you need to make sure that you get to your doctor and what they will do is they will admit you to the hospital."

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The growing international threat from a new SARS-like virus should put U.S. health authorities on alert and prompt serious preparations for its possible arrival here, a top doctor tells Newsmax's Steve Malzberg.
Monday, 03 June 2013 11:33 AM
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