(ATLANTA) — Health officials are warning of a new virus that has sickened at least 14 people worldwide, with eight fatalities, though no cases have been reported in the United States yet.
The novel coronavirus virus, known as hCoV-EMC, is associated with severe respiratory illness and renal failure. It was first recognized last September and caused alarm because it is genetically and clinically similar to the SARS virus, which caused hundreds of deaths worldwide.
The Middle East seems to be the nexus of all the coronavirus cases. There have been eight recorded deaths so far; five in Saudi Arabia, two in Jordan, and one in the U.K.
The U.K. case came about after a 60-year-old U.K. man returned home after visiting Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in late January. He went to the hospital, as did an adult household member who was also suffering from the flu. The later man died, perhaps, as the Center for Disease Control suggests, because the flu “might have made him more susceptible to severe respiratory infection.”
There have been no instances of the coronavirus in the United States yet, but the CDC is urging doctors with patients who have an unexplained respiratory illness after traveling to the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries to report the cases to the CDC.
Doctors should also report patients with known diseases who don’t respond to appropriate treatment. Close contacts of a symptomatic patient should also be evaluated.
The CDC has posted updated guidance for health care providers on its website.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Shevaun Bryan, CNN
Carina Storrs Special to CNN