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New SARS-like Virus Has Longer Incubation Period Than Previously Found

Update Date: May 30, 2013 09:41 AM EDT

One of the newest viral infections with the potential threat of infecting the world has been discovered to have a longer incubation period than previously believed. The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) caused by novel coronavirus (nCoV) has been circulating around people from the Middle East and Europe. The virus, which is very similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that was responsible for hundreds of deaths and thousands of infections worldwide, could pose a huge threat to the public.

According to a new study that reviewed data from two cases of MERS-CoV in France, the virus appears to be able to stay in the body longer than previously believed. This extended incubation period means that people who are suspected of carrying the virus might need to be quarantined or else they risk transferring it to others. The study performed an in depth review of the two cases of MERS-CoV in a 64-year-old Frenchmen who went to Dubai mid-April and died May 28 and his hospital roommate. The two patients shared a room for three days, enough time for the virus to spread. The doctors reported that the incubation period for the second case was nine to 12 days, which is longer than the previous incubation time of one to nine days.

Based from these findings, the study suggests that people who have respiratory symptoms after a trip to the Middle East should be isolated for at least 12 days. Since the first case of this virus was recorded back in Sept. 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been adamantly following the virus. According to the organization there have been 49 confirmed cases, five new cases being tested and 27 deaths. The virus is believed to have originated from Saudi Arabia and has been found in Qatar and Jordan. The virus has also transferred to the United Kingdom, Germany, Tunisia and France due to tourists and travellers.

There are currently no vaccines or cures for this infection, but researchers have stated that this virus appears to be weaker than the SARS virus from 2003. Symptoms to look out for are fever and coughs with breathing complications.

The study was published in The Lancet.

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