Earth Watch Report - Epidemic Hazards
||Thursday, 21 February, 2013 at 04:19 UTC
|The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday updated its novel coronavirus (NCoV) case definition for reporting to the agency, which now includes patients with milder symptoms and those who have not traveled or lived in regions in which cases have occurred. The revised definition, which was previously updated on Jan 16, include streamlined criteria for a probable case. The revised guidance says a probable case involves an acute respiratory infection that “may include but is not limited to cases with a history of fever or measured fever.” The updated version keeps the same definition of close contact with a lab-confirmed case. Also, the WHO said it would continue to update guidance based on new information and that a revision on surveillance for NCoV is under way and will be posted as soon as possible. The latest round of revisions follows the recent detection of a British family cluster of three cases, one of which was fatal and another of which was mild, raising new questions about how the virus is spreading and the nature of the disease threat.
Saudi Arabia reports new coronavirus case; UK wonders about 4th case in cluster
Published on February 21, 2013 by Desi wire feed ·
By Helen Branswell
THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — Saudi Arabia has discovered another infection with the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization announced Thursday.
The infected person was hospitalized in late January and died on Feb. 10, but confirmation of the infection was only made Feb. 18, the WHO said in a statement. Further investigation of the new case is underway.
The Geneva-based agency urged countries to consider testing for the new virus when patients present for care with unexplained pneumonias or when patients with severe, progressive or complicated respiratory illnesses don’t respond to treatment — especially if those patients have recently travelled to or come from parts of the world where infections have occurred.
To date, cases have been linked to three countries in the Middle East — Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan.
The new case is the 13th confirmed infection and seventh death caused by the new coronavirus, which the WHO is calling NCoV.
In addition, there are nearly a dozen cases the WHO considers “probable” infections — people who were exposed to cases and who later became sick but who were not tested or weren’t tested in time. If an infected person had recovered from the illness, current tests — which look for virus DNA in mucus — would not find evidence of infection.
Some laboratories are working to develop a blood test that will detect antibodies to the virus. Once blood tests are available it should be possible to figure out whether some of the probable cases were actually infected.
One instance where such a tool would be useful involves the current cluster of NCoV cases in Britain.
A man who had recently travelled to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia became severely ill after his return. He tested positive for the virus, as did two other members of his family who had not travelled abroad. But a fourth infection may have also occurred in that family.
Health officials investigating how the virus moved from one member of the family to the next suspect another relative may have contracted the virus and may even have spread it to the third confirmed case in the cluster.
This fourth family member had a respiratory illness but was not tested until after she recovered, at which point the test came back negative, said Dr. Anthony Mounts, the WHO’s point person for the outbreak.
Mounts said the U.K. cluster adds slightly to the agency’s concern over the virus. But he said in the main British cases confirm some things the organization has already strongly suspected — in some circumstances, person-to-person spread can occur. However so far, it appears those chains of infection has been short.
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