New Sars-like virus detected in Middle East
LONDON (AP) - The World Health Organization said on Monday it is too soon to say whether there could be an outbreak of a Sars-like killer respiratory disease after health officials in Britain announced they detected a related virus in a severely ill patient from the Middle East.
British officials alerted WHO on Saturday of the new virus in a man transferred from Qatar for treatment in London. He had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, where another man died of a similar illness earlier this year.
The man in the new case was sickened by a coronavirus, from a family of viruses which causes most common colds but also includes the virus that causes Sars, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. In 2003, Sars killed some 800 people, mostly in Asia, in a short-lived epidemic.
"It's still very early days," said Mr Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman. "At the moment we have two sporadic cases and there are still a lot of holes to be filled in." Mr Hartl said it was unclear how the virus is spread and there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.