Truth Frequency Radio


Feb 19, 2013

Coronavirus transmission electron micrographHelen Branswell, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 10:00AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 6:16PM EST

TORONTO — British authorities announced Tuesday that another person has died from infection with the new coronavirus as European scientists revealed the new virus easily infects the cells of the airways of the human lung.

In fact, the new coronavirus is as adept at infecting the cells of the upper airways as two cousin viruses — the one that caused SARS and one that causes common colds, the new study reported. All three are members of the coronavirus family.

Also on Tuesday, the World Health Organization tweaked its case definition for the new coronavirus, in what appears to be an attempt to ensure health officials don’t miss mild cases. That comes in the wake of the discovery of a mild infection in a British resident related to the person who just died.

The man who died — the sixth confirmed fatal infection with this virus — was part of a cluster of three cases in the U.K. Only one, the first diagnosed, had recently travelled abroad. He is believed to have been infected during his trip, which took him to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The other two family members were infected in the U.K., the first time infections with this virus have been seen to have taken place outside the Middle East. They are the man who died and his female relative, who suffered only a mild illness and has since recovered.

Authorities believe the second and third cases in this family were infected via person-to-person transmission, but it appears there are still unanswered questions about the pattern of spread within this group.

“The second and third cases were infected through human-to-human transmission although the exact route of transmission is still under investigation by the U.K. authorities,” the European Centre for Disease Control said Tuesday in a risk assessment on the virus updated to account for the British cluster.

The ECDC statement noted, however, that follow up with approximately 200 health-care workers, family members and other contacts of cases in Europe and the Middle East have not found other instances of secondary spread.

“The (U.K.) Health Protection Agency … is undertaking intensive follow-up of close contacts of these three recent cases to determine if there have been any further mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic infections,” the ECDC statement said.

“Depending upon these findings, case-finding strategies may need to be reviewed, which ECDC is currently considering.”

The WHO seemed to be thinking the same thing, releasing late in the day an updated case definition that suggested probable cases could include people who have an acute respiratory illness but who don’t necessarily have a fever.

That may be an attempt to ensure that health officials don’t overlook mild cases in the search for infections that resemble the high profile ones that have killed half of the 12 confirmed cases and left at least two people in intensive care for weeks or months.

The new WHO case definition also drops a reference to the fact that probable cases should be people whose illness cannot be explained by another infection.

That change may have been prompted by the fact that the first man in this British cluster tested positive for both the new coronavirus and a seasonal flu virus. In some centres if the man’s flu test had come back positive before the coronavirus test was ordered, he might not have been spotted as a coronavirus case.

As health authorities scrambled to try to assess the risk of the new virus the new research findings suggest it is already well-adapted to being a human pathogen. The virus is called EMC — for Erasmus Medical Centre, the Dutch research facility which first identified it — by some people and NCoV, short for novel coronavirus, by others.

In the new study, Volker Thiel and colleagues tested the new virus in human bronchial cells, comparing the EMC virus with the SARS virus and a human coronavirus called 229E that causes colds. The paper was published in the journal mBio.

The cells were as susceptible to the EMC virus as to the other two and in fact, the new virus multiplied at a faster rate than the SARS virus did in the human cells.

Thiel is with the Institute of Immunobiology is at the Kantonal Hospital in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He also teaches at the University of Zurich. Other scientists on this project are with the University of Bonn Medical Centre, the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany and Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Thiel said the team was not surprised that the new virus could infect the airway cells — called epithelial cells. But the degree of susceptibility of the cells to the new virus was unexpected.

“We were a bit surprised that it can so easily infect those cells,” he said in a telephone interview.

“Usually you think that there is a so-called species barrier when an animal virus gets into a human population. But at least on the epithelium layer, we don’t see that.”

The new virus was first spotted last June, when a Saudi Arabian man died from an initially unidentified respiratory infection. Since then, cases have emerged sporadically — some singly, others in small groups. As well, testing on stored samples revealed two people who died in a mysterious respiratory outbreak in Jordan last April were infected with the EMC virus.

All of the infections appear to have a link to the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar being the three countries from which most cases have arisen.

The source of the new virus is still unknown. As such, there are many unanswered — and currently unanswerable — questions about how much of a risk the virus poses to people. No one can say at this point whether it will fade away, continue to trigger the occasional infection, or start to spread easily from person to person.

But the question of whether the virus would need to evolve more to gain the power to infect human lungs does seem to have been answered.

Still, Thiel cautioned that just because the virus can easily infect human lung cells doesn’t mean it has all the tools it would need to take off and spread widely among people.

“We have shown that the airway cells can easily be infected. But this does not mean that the virus can easily be transmitted,” he said. “I think this distinction is important.”

The research may have provided a clue in how to treat infections with the new virus. When the scientists treated the cells with interferons — signalling proteins that cells release to warn surrounding cells of the presence of an attacker — the number of infected cells was significantly reduced. Interferons are currently used in the treatment of several viral diseases.

First patient dies in UK from SARS-like novel coronavirus

A electron microscope image of a coronavirus is seen in this undated picture provided by the Health Protection Agency in London February 19, 2013.  (Reuters/Health Protection Agency)

The patient had a weakened immune system, and it is not clear if that meant he was more susceptible to being infected with it, or even if the virus was the direct cause of his death. His father remains in hospital.

The new coronavirus, which was identified only in September last year, appears to cause respiratory difficulties and internal organ failure in severe cases. It belongs to a wider family of pathogens of varying severity, which also affect many common animals and jump between species.

Novel сoronavirus statistics

Saudi Arabia: Five cases, three deaths

Jordan: Two cases, two deaths

UK: Four cases, one death

Germany: One case, flown from Qatar

Total: 12 cases, six deaths

Source: Health Protection Agency/World Health Organization

Authorities now admit that the virus can be passed between humans and say they are testing people who may have come in contact with the infected family, but have urged calm nonetheless.

“The risk of infection in most circumstances is still considered to be very low,” declared John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the Health Protection Agency, in a statement.

“If the novel coronavirus were more infectious, we would have expected to have seen a larger number of cases.”

Other scientists have been less sanguine.

A new study published on Tuesday in mBio journal examined how quickly the virus multiplied in human bronchial cells, compared to SARS (which stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and another older coronavirus, which causes the common cold. The results showed that newer pathogen multiplied quicker than SARS, and as fast as that cold-causing microorganism.

“We were a bit surprised that it can so easily infect those cells,” said author Volker Thiel from the Institute of Immunobiology is at the Kantonal Hospital in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Genetic tests on animal strains of the virus shows that the new infection could have migrated to humans from bats.

“If an animal virus gets into the human population, one assumes that some adaptation is needed. As we have seen for instance for SARS, there was a phase of adaptation to the human cells, to the receptor. And obviously that is not needed for this new coronavirus,” said Thiel in an interview with the Canadian Press.

Novel Coronavirus Infection Death Reported In UK

MNT

Article Date: 19 Feb 2013 – 5:00 PST

NCoV is probably human-transmissible, but less so than SARS

Although many of the signs and symptoms of these latest infections are similar to those found in SARS, the HPA emphasized that the novel coronavirus is far less human transmissible.

Nobody yet knows how widespread this novel coronavirus is, how 11 out of the 12 confirmed human cases became infected (we know one of them caught the illness from another person in the same family). It is not known whether these infections occurred as a result of (close) contact with infected animals or infected people.

In all the cases, except for one, the patients had been in the Middle East.

WHO says it is encouraging “All Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns. Testing for the new coronavirus should be considered in patients with unexplained pneumonias, or in patients with unexplained severe, progressive or complicated respiratory illness not responding to treatment.”

No matter where in the world they occur, any cases of SARI in healthcare workers should be thoroughly investigated, as should clusters of SARI, WHO added, with new cases being reported immediately to both national health authorities and to WHO.

Health authorities have been asked by WHO to report cases as NCoV or the Novel Coronavirus, and not as SARS-like to avoid confusion.

Screening people at points of entry, travel or trade restrictions are not advised.

Are these novel coronavirus cases the tip of the iceberg?

The novel coronavirus (NCoV) replicates faster than the SARS (SARS-CoV) and is able to penetrate the lining of passageways in the lungs and evade the immune system as easily as the common cold virus can. Scientists have expressed concern and say that the four British cases might be the tip of the iceberg.

The Daily Telegraph, a British national newspaper, quoted Volker Thiel, of The Institute of Immunobiology at Kantonal Hospital in St. Gallen, Switzerland, as saying “We don’t know whether the cases we observe are the tip of the iceberg. Or whether many more people are infected without showing severe symptoms.”

Thiel said that scientists worldwide need to cooperate rapidly to find out where this novel coronavirus came from, how widespread it is, and how contagious it might be.

Health Departments around the world are definitely starting to issue alerts, memos and bulletins regarding NCoV at a much higher rate now than a month ago.

The Department of Health in The Philippines has ordered all hospitals across the nation to report suspected cases of NCoV using a standard report form issued by the National Epidemiology Center “amid an increase in the number of incidents abroad”. Enrique Ona, Health Secretary, added that samples collected from patients with signs and symptoms of NCoV infection should be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City for confirmation. Enrique Ona quoted the World Health Organization’s recommendation that member states be vigilant.

Written by Christian Nordqvist

Third UK Novel Coronavirus Death Reported

By Chris Carrington

The Daily Sheeple
February 19, 2013

UnknownThe third patient suffering from the novel coronavirus in the UK has died.

The man, being cared for at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham died on Sunday morning but news of his death has only recently been released.

Six of the dozen patients known to have been infected with the virus have now died.

Although the possibility of the virus spreading to the wider community is being played down this cases is the first where person to person spread has been confirmed.

The hospital said in a statement it is working closely with the HPA (Health protection Agency) to test all known contacts of the man and to ensure the well being of the greater population.

The infection causes pneumonia and kidney failure but its source and how it spreads is still being investigated.

 

Ah-choo: Tiny components in white blood cells could make a cold more likely

By Debra Erdley Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 4:00 p.m.
Updated 24 minutes ago
TribLive
Tiny components of white blood cells can predict who is susceptible to catching a cold, according to a study led by a Carnegie Mellon University scientist and being published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.Lead investigator Sheldon Cohen, a Carnegie Mellon researcher and psychology professor, joined experts from the University of Virginia, the University of California at San Francisco and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on the three-year project.

It found that the length of telomeres, the DNA-based caps at the end of chromosomes of white blood cells, can predict who will come down with a cold. In the study, those with shorter telomeres were more susceptible to the virus.

WHO urges vigilance over SARS-like virus

AFP
February 17, 2013

COMMENT: Typical WHO fearmongering…

The World Health Organisation on Saturday urged countries to be vigilant over the spread of a potentially fatal SARS-like virus after a new case in Britain brought the global number to 12.

“Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns,” the United Nations health agency said in a statement.

On Friday, British health authorities said that a third member of a family had been diagnosed with so-called novel coronavirus, but was not in danger.

Read full article

As SARS-like virus hits 12th person, WHO urges countries to stay alert

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, February 16, 2013 18:30 EST

The World Health Organisation on Saturday urged countries to be vigilant over the spread of a potentially fatal SARS-like virus after a new case in Britain brought the global number to 12.

“Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns,” the United Nations health agency said in a statement.

On Friday, British health authorities said that a third member of a family had been diagnosed with so-called novel coronavirus, but was not in danger.

“Although this new case offers further indications of person-to-person transmission, no sustained person-to-person transmission has been identified,” said the WHO.

“Testing for the new coronavirus should be considered in patients with unexplained pneumonias, or in patients with unexplained severe, progressive or complicated respiratory illness not responding to treatment,” it added.

Full Article

 

New virus hits 12 globally with new British case

The coronavirus in an undated image. REUTERS/HPA

By Kate Kelland

LONDON | Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:23pm EST

(Reuters) – A fourth person in Britain has contracted a potentially fatal SARS-like virus which was unknown in humans until a few months ago, but health officials said on Friday the risk to the population remained very low.

Confirming the third British case this week of infection the new virus – known as novel coronavirus, or NCoV – the Health Protection Agency said the patient was one of a cluster of three in the same family.

This latest case brings the total number of confirmed cases globally to 12, of which four have been diagnosed in Britain, the HPA said. Of the total, five have died. Most of the infected lived or had recently been in the Middle East.

NCoV was identified when the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an international alert in September 2012 saying a virus previously unknown in humans had infected a Qatari man in Britain who had recently been in Saudi Arabia.

The virus belongs to the same family as SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – a coronavirus that emerged in China in 2002 and killed about a tenth of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide. Symptoms common to both viruses include severe respiratory illness, fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.

The HPA, which earlier this week said the other two patients from the same family were being treated in intensive care units in separate hospitals in northern and central England, said the third case in the cluster was mild.

“The patient … is recovering from a mild respiratory illness and is currently well,” it said in a statement.

John Watson, the HPA’s head of respiratory diseases said that despite this, the HPA was advising the patient to self-isolate and limit contact with other people. Health officials are currently following up other household members.

Coronaviruses are typically spread like other respiratory infections such as flu, travelling in airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

“We would like to emphasize that the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains very low,” Watson said.

When a second case in this cluster was found on Wednesday, Tom Wilkinson, a senior lecturer in respiratory medicine at Britain’s University of Southampton, said that if NCoV turned out to be like the previous SARS outbreak, it may prove quite slow to spread from one human to another.

“But it’s early days to make any definite statements because viruses can change and mutate very rapidly, so what is right today may be wrong tomorrow,” he said.

Among the 12 laboratory-confirmed cases of NCoV to date, five are in Saudi Arabia, with three deaths; two are in Jordan, where both patients died; four are in Britain, where three are receiving treatment and the latest one is described as well; and one was in Germany in a patient from Qatar who has since been discharged from medical care.

(Editing by Michael Roddy)

 

New SARS-Like Virus May Have Spread Between People

By Tim Locke
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Rob Hicks, MD

Feb. 13, 2013 — A new illness similar to the deadly SARS virus has probably spread from person to person in the U.K.

Previous cases of this new virus, a coronavirus, have been seen in people who’ve returned from visits abroad. The latest case is in a person who hasn’t been abroad recently and is thought to have caught it from a relative, British officials say.

However, officials say the threat of the infection spreading remains very low.

Coronaviruses

Many coronaviruses are not a cause for concern. Some strains cause the common cold but also include SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The new coronavirus was identified in September 2012 in a person who died from a severe infection of the lungs. The virus caused fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing problems.

British officials say 11 confirmed cases have been seen worldwide, including three deaths in Saudi Arabia and two deaths in Jordan. None have been reported in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Previous U.K. cases have been seen in people who travelled to Qatar, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

Person-to-Person Transmission?

Officials say two new cases were found in a U.K. resident who had recently been to the Middle East and Pakistan and a family member who had not traveled recently. They are in intensive care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. The family member has an existing medical condition that makes them more susceptible to infections of the lungs, officials say.

In a statement, Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at Britain’s Health Protection Agency (HPA), says, “Confirmed novel coronavirus infection in a person without travel history to the Middle East suggests that person-to-person transmission has occurred, and that it occurred in the U.K.

“Although this case provides strong evidence for person-to-person transmission, the risk of infection in most circumstances is still considered to be very low. If novel coronavirus were more infectious, we would have expected to have seen a larger number of cases than we have seen since the first case was reported three months ago.”

The HPA says special measures have been put in place to stop the infection from spreading.

SOURCES: U.K. Health Protection Agency. CDC: “Novel Coronavirus.

 

Emerging SARS-Like Virus Well-Suited to Attack Humans: Study

TUESDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) — The new SARS-like “coronavirus” that first emerged in the Middle East can invade the lungs and immune system as easily as the common cold, according to a new study.

But in the event of a large-scale outbreak, researchers in Switzerland found the virus — known as HCoV-EMC — may be treatable with components of the immune system, known as interferons. This immunotherapy has shown promise in the treatment of the respiratory disease SARS and hepatitis C, the study authors said.

“Surprisingly, this coronavirus grows very efficiently on human epithelial cells,” said study co-author Volker Thiel of the Institute of Immunobiology at Kantonal Hospital in St. Gallen, in a news release from the American Society for Microbiology. Epithelial cells line hollow organs and glands.

“The other thing we found is that the viruses [HCoV-EMC, SARS, and the common cold virus] are all similar in terms of host responses: they don’t provoke a huge innate immune response,” he said.

The study was published online Feb. 19 in mBio.

HCoV-EMC, which may have jumped from animal to human very recently, was first isolated in June after a man in Saudi Arabia died from a severe respiratory infection and kidney failure. Following his death, health officials identified 11 more people infected with the virus, the latest in Great Britain. So far, six of the 12 people with known infections have died. Nearly all patients have lived or traveled in the Middle East.

Concerns have been raised that the new strain could trigger a pandemic similar to the SARS outbreak of 2002-03, which infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774.

“We don’t know whether the cases we observed are the tip of the iceberg, or whether many more people are infected without showing severe symptoms,” noted Thiel.

The World Health Organization on Saturday said that doctors should test patients for the new coronavirus if they have unexplained pneumonia or unexplained complicated respiratory illness not responding to treatment.

So far, no cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To test the new virus, the researchers used cultured bronchial cells to mimic the lining of the human airway. Although this lining is a key barrier against respiratory viruses, the study revealed these cells didn’t mount a big defense against HCoV-EMC. Instead, they found human lungs are highly susceptible to the virus, which can multiply at a faster initial rate than SARS.

The study authors noted, however, that pre-treating the airway with proteins that play a critical role in immune response to infections — known as lambda-type interferons — significantly reduced the number of infected cells.

Although their findings suggest there is promise for an effective treatment against HCoV-EMC, the researchers added ongoing cooperation between scientists and health agencies around the world is needed to prevent outbreaks of this virus and other diseases.

— Mary Elizabeth Dallas

 

MORE NEWS BY NEWS >>