Monday, December 3, 2012

Possibility of a pandemic grows as WHO discovers another SARS-related virus

Excerpts: The WHO reported that as of Friday two deaths in Jordan were among five confirmed deaths from the new virus in the Middle East this year. “These cases were discovered through testing of stored samples from a cluster of pneumonia cases that occurred in April 2012,” the U.N. agency said. In the Saudi Arabian family cluster, two of the three confirmed cases were fatal. One more family member also had a similar illness and recovered but tested negative by polymerase chain reaction, the WHO stated. Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister for public health, Ziad A. Memish, MD, today suggested that the virus in the Saudi Arabian family cluster may be different from the strain in the earlier cases. “We think the virus in the last family cluster is different as it had significant spread among households while none of the previous cases behaved in a similar way,” Memish said in e-mailed comments to CIDRAP News. Memish was among the authors of a description of Saudi Arabia’s second novel CoV case, published this week in the Saudi Medical Journal. But if the new virus is able to spread from person to person, even if inefficiently, that raises the possibility it can become more mobile, moving through human populations. “Even if the cases in Jordan were human-to-human spread — and we don’t know that — it wasn’t sustained,” WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told the Canadian Press.

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