As we have reported previously, a new virus in the SARS family, that was first detected in the summer has claimed two more victims. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that one of the dead, a 73-year-old man, was flown from the United Arab Emirates to Germany for treatment and succumbed to the respiratory infection. The patient was flown to Europe for treatment on March 19 and succumbed to the virus on March 26.

The other recent victim was a United Kingdom resident who had recently traveled to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia before becoming ill with respiratory symptoms. According to the WHO report, this was the person who had been at the center of the family cluster of infections where two others had been infected and one died. The patient had been receiving treatment for the virus for close to two months before dying.

Concern was rampant when family members of the UK patient that had traveled to the Middle East and Pakistan became infected without, themselves, having traveled outside the UK. Epidemiologists, doctors and scientists were worried that the virus had gained the ability to be transmitted from person to person, rather only from its original source to humans.

As of today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "As of March 27, 2013, 17 laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported to WHO - nine from Saudi Arabia, two from Qatar, two from Jordan, three from the United Kingdom, and one from the United Arab Emirates. The onset of illness was between April 2012 and March 2013. Among the 17 cases, 11 were fatal. Two of the 17 cases experienced a mild respiratory illness and fully recovered."

There is much fear about this new virus because around 65 percent of all those found to be infected have died.

Genetic sequencing of the virus was first performed in the UK last summer after one patient died from a unknown respiratory illness and had recently traveled from the Middle East. Researchers found that the virus most closely resembles a coronavirus found to infect bats and is in the family of SARS that sparked a global pandemic which killed over 700 people in 2002-2003. Genetic sequencing and testing of the virus has allowed doctors to spot patients with the infection quicker and with more accuracy than has been available for any previous virus.