Coronavirus Update: Severe Respiratory Illnesses Worldwide

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SARS associated coronavirus, which is similar to this new coronavirus. Photo by: Encephalon

SARS associated coronavirus, which is similar to this new coronavirus. Photo by: Encephalon

A new strain of the coronavirus has been identified and has been causing severe respiratory illnesses and death around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) another person died of the novel coronavirus on February 10, 2013 in Saudi Arabia, which brings the total to 13 confirmed cases and seven deaths as of February 21, 2013.

There are still questions as to the cause of this new virus and how it spreads, but experts are learning more about the novel coronavirus daily.

Case Definition: ‘Person Under Investigation’

As more information is collected about this new virus, experts update the case definition. This helps clinicians understand the virus and what symptoms maybe present in someone who may have the novel coronaviurus.

A person who has the following signs and symptoms is considered a ‘person under investigation.’ These signs and symptoms include: acute respiratory infection, possible fever of 100.4°F or higher, and cough. A patient under investigation also has to have suspension of unexplained pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome and they also must have traveled to or are residents of the Arabian Peninsula (where infections have occurred and possible transmission may have taken place).

Novel Virus: Probable Case

A probable case exists where a person meets the requirements for a patient under investigation, but has not been confirmed by laboratory testing; this could be because the patient or samples are not available or testing is not available. A probable case can also include  a person who is in close contact with someone who does have a laboratory confirmed case who is experiencing unexplained pneumonia or acute respiratory distress.

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