UK officials identified a second case of a new virus similar to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in England this past Monday. The World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement on Sunday saying identifying the new virus, the first case arising in Saudi Arabia previously this year. According to the BBC, another man with the same virus who was in Saudi Arabia arrived in a London hospital from Qatar by air ambulance.
Reuters reports that the WHO said the man sought medical care on September 3rd for symptoms of a respiratory infection. Four days later, the Qatari citizen was admitted to an ICU in Doha and was transferred to London on September 11th. The two identified cases are said to be unrelated.
Although officials are wary of the affects of the new virus, they are ensuring that it does not spread, “Further information about these cases is being developed for healthcare workers in the UK, as well as advice to help maintain increased vigilance for this virus,” stated Professor John Watson, who heads the Respiratory Diseases Department at the UK’s Health Protection Agency.
The cases are critical, yet developing information regarding the virus reportedly gives no cause for alarm. Peter Openshaw, the director of the Center for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London, stated that the new virus “was unlikely to prove a concern, but experts would watch out for any sign of it spreading.” However, Openshaw did add, “Any evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission or of contact would be [more] worrying, raising the worry that another SARS-like agent could be emerging.”
This new virus is part of a category of coronaviruses, to which SARS and the common cold belong. SARS famously erupted in 2002 in China and resulted in 800 deaths worldwide out of the 8,000 reported cases. The current preventative measures could hopefully avert another SARS-like epidemic.
Substantive research strongly suggests a link between industrial breeding of chickens and other birds for human consumption and the increased risk of pandemics such as SARS and “avian flu.”