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May 13, 2013 at 12:01 PM

New virus stirs concern, but no restrictions on travel

A nurse walks towards the Roger Salengro Hospital in Lille,France, on May 13, 2013 where two patients were diagnosed with the Novel Coronavirus. Officials are now trying to track down everyone who went on a tour group holiday to Dubai with the first patient as well as all contacts of the second patient.  (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

A nurse walks towards the Roger Salengro Hospital in Lille,France, on May 13 where two patients were diagnosed with the Novel Coronavirus. Officials are now trying to track down everyone who went on a tour group holiday to Dubai with the first patient as well as all contacts of the second patient. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

News is percolating among international travelers  about what’s called the Novel Coronavirus, a new and deadly disease that can cause severe respiratory illness and fever.

The number of people infected since it was spotted last year is very low so far – 34 people from April 2012 to May 2013  according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control – but the death rate is high and there is no specific treatment for it.  Many cases have been linked to countries in the Arabian Peninsula, and most recently a tourist  from France is believed to have caught  the virus when visiting Dubai (and his hospital roommate in France became infected).

However, the World Health Organization currently  is not recommending any special screening at borders nor is it  recommending any travel or trade restrictions because of the Novel Coronavirus.

Here’s an overview from the CDC  website about the Novel Coronavirus.  (There’s also concern about a new bird flu that is spreading in China.)

“Q: What is the new human coronavirus? 

A: The new virus is a beta coronavirus. It is different from other coronaviruses that have been found in people before.

Q: Is this virus the same as the SARS virus?

A: No. The novel coronavirus is not the same virus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. However, like the SARS virus, the novel coronavirus is most similar to those found in bats. CDC is still learning about this new virus.

Q: How many people have been infected?

A: From April 2012 to May 2013, a total of 34 people from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and France were confirmed to have an infection caused by the novel coronavirus.

  • Saudi Arabia: 24 people; 15 of them died
  • Qatar: 2 people; both survived
  • Jordan: 2 people; both died
  • UK: 3 people; 2 died, 1 recovered
  • UAE: 1 person; died
  • France: 2 people, both receiving treatment

For more information, see the World Health Organization.

 Q: What are the symptoms of novel coronavirus infection?

A: Most people who got infected with the novel coronavirus developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Only two people experienced a mild respiratory illness.

Q: Does the virus spread from person to person?

A: In the UK, one infected person likely spread the virus to two family members. This cluster of cases provides the first evidence of person-to-person transmission. The UK’s Public Health England is continuing to investigate this.”

Comments | More in Travel health | Topics: CDC, Novel Coronavirus

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