A 65-year-old man is France's first casualty from a SARS-like coronavirus. The man's hospital roommate has also become very ill from the virus, which has now claimed 24 lives. The latest victim had been traveling in the Middle East, which is where the majority of cases originated. The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the virus Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, or MERS-CoV, and has called it a global threat.
Mayo Clinic vaccine research specialist Gregory Poland, M.D., (PO lund) says right now very little is known about this novel, or new, virus other than it is distantly related to the 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong, which eventually killed more than 750 people. Dr. Poland says a lot of detective work is underway to analyze and treat this new virus.
Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Poland are available in the downloads.
/// SOT 2:42 (Gregory Poland, M.D., Mayo Clinic) "So the best that can be done is to try to diagnose and follow every case. Try to understand the epidemiologic and geographic spread of the virus and begin to develop vaccines and therapeutics against a virus like this. " :16
Still, neither the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) nor the WHO has issued any travel warnings to the affected regions. Dr. Poland says most people in the U.S. should not be concerned at this point, unless they have recently traveled to the Middle East or Europe and get ill suddenly.
/// SOT 1:38 (Gregory Poland, M.D., Mayo Clinic) "It would put me on guard if I developed a fever, if I developed shortness of breath and a cough. These would be the hallmark signals that would drive you to see a physician. Let them know where you've traveled so that could be investigated promptly." :15
The new virus has killed more than half the people it has infected. Nearly four dozen cases have been reported.