Deadly new virus warning issued by CDC

Posted at 4:30 PM, Mar 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-08 16:46:46-05

A deadly new virus warning has been issued by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Thursday, the CDC warned state and local health officials about potential infections from a deadly virus previously unseen in humans, Reuters is reporting.

In all, 14 people in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Kingdom have been confirmed as having an infection caused by the novel coronavirus. Investigations are underway to figure out the source of the novel coronavirus and how it spreads.

Most of the infections have occurred in the Middle East, but a new analysis of three confirmed infections in Britain suggests the virus can pass from person to person rather than from animal to humans, the CDC said.

The virus is a coronavirus, part of the same family of viruses as the common cold and the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that first emerged in Asia in 2003. The new virus is not the same as SARS, but like the SARS virus, it is similar to those found in bats.

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Symptoms of infection with this new virus include severe acute respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath. Neither the CDC nor the World Health Organization has issued travel restrictions related to the virus.

So far, there are no reports of anyone in U.S. getting infected and sick with the novel coronavirus.

The CDC has set up a special website with updates on the infections .

More from the CDC:

CDC continues to work closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners to better understand the public health risk presented by recently reported cases of infection with a novel coronavirus. As of March 6, 2013, 14 laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported to WHO – seven from Saudi Arabia, two from Qatar, two from Jordan, and three from the United Kingdom. The onset of illness was between April 2012 and February 2013. Among the 14 cases, eight were fatal. Severe acute respiratory infections occurred in 13 of the 14 cases, while one case experienced a mild respiratory illness and fully recovered.

Clusters of cases in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Kingdom are being investigated. The first cluster of two cases, both fatal, occurred near Amman, Jordan, in April 2012. Stored samples from these two cases tested positive retrospectively for the novel coronavirus. This cluster was temporally associated with cases of illness among workers in a hospital . A second cluster occurred in October 2012, in Saudi Arabia. Of the four individuals in the household, three were laboratory-confirmed cases, two of them died. In February 2013, a third cluster of three family members was identified in the United Kingdom. All three people tested positive for novel coronavirus. Among them, one family member is receiving treatment, one died, and one recovered after experiencing a mild respiratory illness. This cluster provides evidence of person-to-person transmission of novel coronavirus. It also provides the first example of mild illness being associated with novel coronavirus infection. The efficiency of person-to-person transmission of novel coronavirus is not well characterized but appears to be low, given the small number of confirmed cases since the discovery of the virus.

The reservoir and route of transmission of the novel coronavirus are still being investigated. Genetic sequencing to date has determined the virus is most closely related to coronaviruses detected in bats. CDC is continuing to collaborate with WHO and affected countries to better characterize the epidemiology of novel coronavirus infection in humans.