A Tunisian man died of SARS-like virus after Mecca pilgrimage

May 21, 2013 at 5:24 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 21 (UPI) -- A Tunisian man died after a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and two adults children tested positive for SARS-like virus, health officials say.

World Health Organization officials said Tuesday the 66-year-old Tunisian man was the second pilgrim to the Muslim holy city to be sickened with the SARS-like virus novel coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Tunisian man returned from a week's trip to Saudi Arabia and Qatar May 6 and died May 10. His 35-year-old daughter, who traveled with him, also became ill but recovered at home and a 34-year-old son didn't fall sick but tested positive for the virus, a Tunisian official said.

The new infections are likely to prompt worries ahead of the peak Islamic pilgrimage periods in Saudi Arabia in summer and autumn.

WHO officials in Geneva, Switzerland, said the virus spreads by animal-to-person and person-to-person, but so far it doesn't appear to spread easily in communities at large. Last week, WHO officials confirmed 40 cases, including 20 deaths worldwide, since the virus was detected last September.

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