WebMD Medical News
Keith Barnard, MD
Feb. 19, 2013 -- A British man being treated for a new virus, called a novel coronavirus, has died.
The man died from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in the critical care unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham on Sunday morning, the hospital announced.
The patient was already an outpatient at the hospital for a long-term, unrelated health condition that had affected his immune system.
The patient is believed to have caught the virus from a relative who is being treated for the condition in a Manchester hospital. Another family member is also being treated.
Previous cases had only been seen in people who've returned from visits abroad. Two of the latest cases had no history of recent travel. The U.K.’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) believes that means transmission happened in the U.K.
However, officials say the threat of the infection spreading across the population remains low.
Many coronaviruses are not a cause for concern. Some strains cause the common cold but also include SARS.
The new coronavirus was first identified in September last year in a patient who died from a severe respiratory infection.
The virus caused serious respiratory illness in the patient, who had fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.
Since September, there have been 12 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus globally, with six deaths. None have been reported in the U.S.
The HPA says intensive work has been carried out in the U.K. to identify people who've been in contact with the infected family members. More than 100 people who had close contact with the cases have been checked but not found to have the virus.
Officials say the risk of infections remains low.
SOURCES:U.K. Health Protection Agency.News release, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.CDC: “Novel Coronavirus Recently Detected.”
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