New virus linked to SARS identified

Sept. 24, 2012 at 11:22 PM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A new, or novel, coronavirus -- same family as SARS -- from a 49-year-old Qatari man was confirmed by a British laboratory, officials said.

The Health Protection Agency of the United Kingdom conducted laboratory testing and confirmed the presence of a novel coronavirus in a previously healthy Qatari national that presented with symptoms on Sept. 3 with travel history to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia prior to onset of the illness, a statement by the World Health Organization said.

On Sept. 7, the man was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha, Qatar and on Sept. 11 he was transferred to Britain by air ambulance from Qatar.

The Health Protection Agency compared the sequencing of the virus isolate from the Qatari national with that of a virus sequenced previously by the Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

"This latter isolate was obtained from lung tissue of a fatal case earlier this year in a 60-year-old Saudi national and this comparison indicated 99.5 percent identity, with one nucleotide mismatch over the regions compared," the WHO statement said.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which includes viruses that cause the common cold and SARS.

"Given that this is a novel coronavirus, WHO is currently in the process of obtaining further information to determine the public health implications of these two confirmed cases," the statement said.

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