Virus be­hind China’s pneu­mo­nia out­break

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Valley Life - By YANAN WANG

BEI­JING — Since late last year, peo­ple in the cen­tral Chi­nese city of Wuhan have been in­fected with a vi­ral pneu­mo­nia whose cause was un­known. The out­break raised the specter of an­other SARS epi­demic, which killed hun­dreds in 2002 and 2003.

A pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion has now iden­ti­fied the res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease as a new type of coro­n­avirus, Chi­nese state me­dia re­ported Thurs­day, cit­ing sci­en­tists han­dling the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

As of Fri­day, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties re­ported 41 suf­fer­ing from pneu­mo­nia caused by a “pre­lim­i­nar­ily de­ter­mined new type of coro­n­avirus,” down from the ear­lier fig­ure of 59. It said those were in sta­ble con­di­tion and at least two had been re­leased from a hos­pi­tal.

What are coro­n­aviruses?

Coro­n­aviruses are a large fam­ily of viruses first iden­ti­fied in hu­mans in the mid-1960s. Some cause the com­mon cold, while oth­ers found in bats, camels and other an­i­mals have evolved into more se­vere ill­nesses.

The name comes from the Latin word “corona,” mean­ing a halo or crown, which the viruses re­sem­ble when viewed un­der a mi­cro­scope.

What are the symp­toms?

Com­mon symp­toms in­clude a runny nose, headache, cough and fever. Short­ness of breath, chills and body aches are as­so­ci­ated with more dan­ger­ous kinds of coro­n­avirus, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Cen­ters

for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

How are coro­n­aviruses spread?

Many coro­n­aviruses can spread through cough­ing or sneez­ing, or by touch­ing an in­fected per­son, but of­fi­cials said the present ill­ness does not not trans­mit read­ily be­tween peo­ple

The Wuhan Mu­nic­i­pal Health Com­mis­sion said some of the in­fected pa­tients ran busi­nesses in a seafood mar­ket, mean­ing it’s pos­si­ble they were in­fected by an­i­mals there. The mar­ket is be­ing sus­pended and in­ves­ti­gated.

Is it any­thing like sars?

SARS, or se­vere acute res­pi­ra­tory syn­drome, be­longs to the coro­n­avirus fam­ily, but Chi­nese state me­dia say the ill­ness in Wuhan is dif­fer­ent from coro­n­aviruses that have been iden­ti­fied in the past. Ear­lier lab­o­ra­tory tests ruled out SARS and MERS (Mid­dle East res­pi­ra­tory syn­drome), as well as in­fluenza, bird flu, ade­n­ovirus and other com­mon lung-in­fect­ing germs.

SARS emerged as a novel coro­n­avirus in 2002, first in­fect­ing peo­ple in south­ern China, then spread­ing to more than two dozen coun­tries. More than 8,000 peo­ple were sick­ened and more than 700 died.

An­other form of coro­n­avirus causes MERS, an ill­ness that be­gan in Jor­dan and Saudi Ara­bia in 2012 be­fore spread­ing to about two dozen other coun­tries. It has re­sulted in more than 800 deaths, with the ma­jor­ity re­ported from Saudi Ara­bia.

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