Tuesday, October 23, 2012

PRO/AH/EDR> Novel coronavirus - Saudi Arabia (13): history, collateral damage

Published Date: 2012-10-21 20:45:47
Date: 21 Oct 2012

Source: Toronto Star [edited]


Four months ago, a mucus sample arrived in Dr. Ali Mohamed Zaki's laboratory in Saudi Arabia. The mucus had been coughed up by a 60-year-old Saudi Arabian man with a strange case of pneumonia. He had been admitted to the Dr. Soliman Fakeeh hospital in Jeddah on [13 Jun 2012]; soon after, his kidneys began to fail. Eleven days after being hospitalized, the man was dead.

When the patient was admitted, Zaki was working in the hospital's virology lab, which he helped establish in 1994. He was sent samples of the patient's sputum, mucus coughed up from his lungs.

Eventually, this spot of sputum would lead Zaki to the discovery of a virus never before seen in humans: a novel coronavirus, the same type of virus behind the SARS outbreak in 2003 that swept across 30 countries and killed approximately 800 people, including 44 Torontonians.

Zaki's discovery -- and his decision to post it online -- touched off a chain of events that quickly unearthed a 2nd patient in another country and enabled the global health community to gain an upper hand in the face of a potentially deadly new virus.

Scientists have now learned the virus's genetic code, discovered its likely link to bats, and equipped labs around the world with the means to diagnose it. Virologist buddies from the "old SARS club" have reunited, collaborating once again across borders, and teams of experts have been deployed to the Middle East to aggressively investigate the virus and its origins. Full ProMED Article:

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