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France Reports Three New Possible Cases of SARS-Like Coronavirus

Update Date: May 10, 2013 10:30 AM EDT

Amidst the possible concerns surrounding the bird flu, H7N9, in China, another potentially dangerous virus has begun to slowly spread from the Middle East and out to Europe. This new SARs-like coronavirus is believed to have originated from a hospital in Saudi Arabia last year. This new coronavirus has already killed 18 people and infected nearly 31 people according to the United Nations' (UN) agency, the World Health Organization (WHO). Although WHO has announced that it will send two experts to the Saudi Arabian hospital, over in France, there are a reported three new possible cases of the disease.

The three suspected cases of coronavirus in France started when a 65-year-old Frenchman fell ill shortly after his trip to Dubai, a city from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He vacationed in the city for nine days under a packaged tour, returned home on April 17 and was hospitalized just a few days later for respiratory complications in the northern French city of Valenciennes. By April 29, he was transferred to a more advanced hospital facility in Douai. It is at this second location that the virus might have spread to three other people, suggesting that this SARS-like coronavirus, which was discovered last Septembers in the Middle East, might be more easily transmissible via human-to-human contact than previously believed.

The three suspected new cases are a doctor and a nurse that both treated the old man, and a former hospital roommate. All three people have been tested and remain at the hospital for medical care. Their test results have not confirmed that they are all suffering form the new coronavirus. As of right now, the 65-year-old man is still the only confirmed case of the coronavirus in France.

The coronavirus has been linked to be from the same viral family that was responsible for the SARS outbreak in 2003. This outbreak, which originated from Asia, killed a total of 775 people. Due to the fact that this new virus seems to be spreading, WHO experts plan on researching it at its source, the Al-Moosa hospital in the town of Hofuf in Ahsa governate in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

WHO hopes that its investigation will help them prevent the coronavirus from spreading at a faster rate. 

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