As we have reported before, a new virus to mankind popped up over the summer killing one patient in the UK and a total of five between Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Researchers rushed to decode the genome of the virus and have tools to track infected people and determine the cause and spread of the infection.
The Health Protection Agency in the UK has been monitoring the situation with new patients in the same family having been infected in the last month and one dying from the infection. One of the patients had traveled to the Middle East in Pakistan and came back ill. This patient subsequently infected one other member of his family and another member was taken to the hospital for monitoring.
The one patient who died from the virus had not traveled to the Middle East and had most likely become infected from the family member that had. This piece of information raised alarm that the virus had gained, or already had, the ability to be transmitted from person to person.
Officials in the UK then tracked down all of the passengers that had taken the same flight as the patient who had brought it into the country and were determining if any had been infected.
The virus is a form of coronavirus, the same type that led to the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003 and killed hundreds of people around the world before fading away. This new virus is related but has never before been seen in humans until a patient in the UK died in the summer. Health professionals believe that there are more than the 12 known infected patients spread across Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UK.
The CDC has started a website to track information about the virus and infections in order to keep the public apprised of the situation. Officials are worried that the virus, which was picked up in the Middle East by all but one infected patient, could jump from person to person.
There are currently no travel restrictions on people traveling to and form the Arabian Peninsula but the CDC urges doctors to monitor patients with respiratory illness.
The new CDC website can be found here.