A new and deadly virus has reared its ugly head causing grave concern among the international health community. hCov-EMC aka Human Coronavirus – Erasmus Medical Center was 1st recognized in mid 2012. This deadly mutated strain of coronavirus is apparently highly lethal – so far 5 of the 11 know victims of this deadly disease have died. This mutated virus is similar to a strain of coronavirus found in bat populations. Unfortunately it appears that this new and deadly virus has made the leap from animals to humans, and even more disturbing, recently a human to human transmission has occurred.
The first recorded victim was identified in June 012 when a 60 year old male appeared in a Jidda Saudi Arabia hospital with flu like symptoms and difficulty breathing. Within a few days of admission to the hospital, this patient died of kidney failure and severe pneumonia. In the past 7 months, 11 more cases have been identified, including one in England in early 2013. This particular case of hCov-EMC was particularly disturbing to international infectious disease researchers and WHO(World Health Organization) because the British victim apparently contracted the new and deadly coronavirus from his father who had recently traveled to the Middle East. The virus’ apparent ability to leap from animal to human then quickly from human to human is very disturbing.
The symptoms of hCov-EMC infection are flu like, including fever, a cough and difficulty breathing, which quickly evolves to severe pneumonia and renal (kidney) failure. Public health official have sounded a warning to the international community advising all medical facilities and doctors to be aware of and to report any unusual respiratory infections. This new coronavirus is similar to SARS(severe acute respiratory syndrome) and possibly even more lethal and more infectious. While the low rate of infection so far indicates that hCov-EMC currently has a low transmission rate – health officials are very concerned that at any moment this deadly new strain of corona virus could further mutate into a highly contagious disease that could rapidly spread person-to-person internationally.
Only time will tell whether or not the hCov-EMC will or will not be our next plague and whether or not we will have developed the right antibiotics to stop it. The increase in the rate of disease transmission from animal to humans continues to alarm the worldwide health community. With the increase in international travel, we continue to see an increase in the mutation and spread of human to animal diseases(zoonoses) that originate in remote areas of the world (where close human/animal contact occurs more frequently). At any moment one of these new and deadly disease could trigger a deadly international plague. It is imperative that we are alert and prepared to confront what appears to be the inevitable.