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CDC cautions doctors about deadly new coronavirus

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 24, 2013

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Physicians should consider a coronavirus that has a high fatality rate as a diagnosis for patients who have a respiratory illness and recently traveled to the Middle East, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The guidance was issued to physicians on June 7.

The agency recommends that doctors test patients for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) if they have an acute respiratory infection as well as possible pulmonary parenchymal disease, symptoms that aren’t explained by another infection, and if they traveled within the past 14 days to the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries.

Doctors should report such patients to their state and local health department, the CDC said (link).

Testing for the virus is conducted with the CDC Novel Coronavirus 2012 Real-time RT-PCR Assay. The assay has been deployed to Laboratory Response Network laboratories in all 50 states, the CDC said.

As of June 7, there have been 55 laboratory-confirmed cases of the infection, which caused 31 deaths, according to CDC data. No cases have been reported in the United States, the CDC said.

Genetic sequence analysis shows this virus is different from other known human coronaviruses, according to the agency. The CDC is working with the World Health Organization and others to better understand the public health risk the virus poses.

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