A New SARS-Like Outbreak?

September 25, 2012

A deadly respiratory disease has just been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) that is 99.5% similar in structure to the SARS virus. It appears to have originated in the Middle East, but a case has also been identified in the UK.

Only a few people have been identified as carrying the virus—but the discovery is new, and WHO hasn’t determined how many people may be affected (for example, only the most serious cases have probably been reported). They’ve asked hospitals to watch for signs of the virus and are tracking people who may have been in contact with the confirmed cases. (There’s no data yet on how the virus might spread).

The SARS outbreak was 10 years ago, and it only lasted a year or so before the SARS virus disappeared. If this is similar, it may not be worth worrying about too much.

What might be concerning is how it’s different from the SARS virus—it causes kidney failure in patients. Since like SARS it is primarily a respiratory virus, kidney failure is a highly unusual symptom, and may make it easier for hospitals to track.

What do you remember thinking about the SARS virus? What do you think of this new one? Share your thoughts below:

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