A mysterious and fatal SARs-like virus has been detected in China and it is said to have claimed three lives and infected 200 people.
Researchers believe the number of cases may be higher than current reports suggest and three US airports have already begun screening incoming passengers for signs of illness, as have busy airports in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Malaysia.
The virus which is a new strain of coronavirus was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Dec. 31, 2019, and has been under investigation since.
Scientists are yet to fully understand how destructive the new virus, dubbed 2019-nCoV, might be and there are no treatments or cure for the virus.
Coronaviruses viruses are found in animals. When they enter a human host they can cause fever, respiratory illness, and inflammation in the lungs. In immunocompromised individuals, such as the elderly or those with HIV-AIDS, they can cause severe respiratory illness.
Reports say the virus originated in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan that sells fish, as well as a panoply of other animal meats. The market, believed to be the epicenter of the spread, was shut down on Jan. 1.
The good news is that there have not been reports of health officials and attendants contracting the disease, which seems to suggest human-to-human transmission is limited — but this is still being investigated.
Sufferers experience mild pneumonia-like symptoms, while others have a much more severe response – elevated body temperature, dry cough, respiratory distress, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties. Pneumonia, which inflames the lungs and causes them to fill with fluid, has been detected in some patient chest X-rays, according to WHO.