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The global SARS epidemic of 2003 killed 800 people and the virus has since been a major concern for health officials. Now, a new strain of coronavirus, similar to that of the SARS virus, has started to spread with cases in the Arabian Peninsula and the UK.
The new virus, considered a strain of the coronavirus which is responsible for the common cold to SARS, has now been identified in its 10th global victim. The new virus appeared in September of 2012 in Saudi Arabia. The first infected patient has since died and the virus has collected another 4 victims along the way. The first British case was seen shortly after the virus was identified in Saudi Arabia.
The coronavirus family is a large one, the spread of family-based viruses is usually due to bodily fluid droplets that are released into the air from coughing or sneezing. Symptoms of this new virus, being called NCoV scientifically, include fever, coughing, breathing problems and other symptoms related to severe respiratory illnesses.
Health officials believe that the virus originated in the Middle East as patients have either visited or resided in the area. Additionally, it is speculated that the virus was passed from bats or camels into humans, and may not be passable between humans.
While health officials are on high-watch, most say the chance of the virus spreading to the US at this point is low, but still possible. Given the fact that half of the victims who have contracted this new virus have died, there is reason to be alarmed. Though the risk of spread is low at this point, the virus could easily become a global epidemic like its predecessor. In the event that a global spread happens, being prepared will be important to protect against contraction. Using items like facemasks, N95 respirators, gloves, and thorough hand washing can all help protect against this new coronavirus.
Sources: BBC News - Health - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21410190 USA Today - Health & Wellness - http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/02/11/sars-linked-virus/1909415/ Reuters - http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/11/us-virus-new-britain-idUSBRE91A0LA20130211