A deadly virus never before seen in humans has sickened 14 people across the U.S. and killed eight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a warning issued Thursday.
In its Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report yesterday, the CDC said that most of the viral infections have occurred in the Middle East, although another three infections have been confirmed in Britain, indicating that the virus can pass from person to person instead of from animal to humans.
A coronavirus, which belongs to 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, this newest virus is similar to those found in bats.
The CDC says the infections in Britain started with a 60-year-old man who developed a respiratory illness on Jan. 24, 2013 after recently traveling to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Tests indicated the man was infected, both with the new virus and with swine flu (H1N1).
Two more members of the man’s household also caught the infection from the man, including a man who subsequently died, and a woman who has since recovered.
To date, no cases of the new virus have been reported in the United States, but the CDC warns that anyone who travels to or around the Arabian Peninsula, and then develops a severe acute lower respiratory illness within 10 days of returning, should be evaluated and continue to be evaluated according to current guidelines.
Meanwhile, the CDC has set up a special page on its website that includes updates on infections. Symptoms of infection with the new virus include severe acute respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath.