Relative of UK patient suffering deadly SARS-like virus falls ill – proving it IS infectious

New patient is a relative of the sufferer who was confirmed to have Sars-like virus on MondaySix hospital staff came into contact with the patient but have not displayed any symptoms so far
Original patient had recently travelled to Middle East
Takes number of confirmed worldwide cases to 11

By
Sophie Borland

PUBLISHED:

10:31 GMT, 13 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:35 GMT, 13 February 2013

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to SARS

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to SARS

A new Sars-like illness is spreading between humans, experts warn.

So far there have been just three confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Britain – and only 11 in the world.

Initially scientists assumed it could only be caught from animals and was mainly confined to the Middle East.

But today the Health Protection Agency confirmed that a man had apparently caught the disease from a relative.

This latest case is the first evidence that the virus can spread between humans.

Officials at the HPA insist that the
victim was suffering from long-term health problems that made him more
susceptible to the illness.

They stress that the overall threat to
the population remains low – and it is far less dangerous than Sars
which claimed hundreds of lives.

The latest patient is being treated on the intensive care unit at Queen’s Hospital Birmingham.

He is thought to have caught the
disease from a relation, who became infected in the Middle East, and is
being treated at a Manchester hospital.

Professor John Watson, head of the
respiratory diseases department at the HPA, said: ‘This case is a family
member who was in close personal contact with the earlier case and who
may have been at greater risk of acquiring an infection because of their
underlying health condition.

'To date, evidence of person-to-person
transmission has been limited. Although this case provides strong
evidence for person to person transmission, the risk of infection in
most circumstances is still considered to be very low.'

The latest patient to become infected with the coronavirus is being treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham

The latest patient to become infected with the coronavirus is being treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham

‘If novel coronavirus were more infectious, we would have expected to have seen a larger number of cases than we have seen since the first case was reported three months ago.’

A third patient who contracted the illness in Qatar in September is still being treated at another hospital in Britain.

There have been another eight cases worldwide, mainly in the Middle East, and seven of the patients died.

Scientists have likened the infection to Sars, which claimed 900 lives worldwide between 2002 and 2003

At present they are not sure exactly how it is transmitted but it is thought to be mainly viaay be via animals or their droppings.

Sars, or Severe acute respiratory syndrome, which originated in China in November 2002.

Between then and July 2003, it spread to 37 other countries, including Ireland, Spain and the US, infecting more than 8,400 people and claiming 900 lives.

Four cases were reported in the UK, although no one died.

WHAT ARE CORONAVIRUSES

Coronaviruses
are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness in humans
and animals. In humans, this large family of viruses are known to cause
illness ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome (SARS).

What are the symptoms of the novel coronavirus

In
confirmed cases, common symptoms have been acute, serious respiratory
illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing
difficulties. The infection generally presents as pneumonia. It has
caused kidney failure and death in some cases.

How is the virus spread

To
date, the Health Protection Agency says it is not clear how humans have
become infected with this virus. At the moment there is no vaccine or
specific treatment – but many of the symptoms caused by this virus can
be treated.