Health Officials Worried Two New Viruses, Bird Flu H7N9 And Coronavirus, May Lead to a Global Outbreak
By Staff Writer | May 14, 2013 01:31 PM EDT
There seem to be two viruses across the world that have many health officials worried of a global outbreak: a coronavirus located in the Middle East and a bird flu in China.
A coronavirus- any virus of a group of RNA viruses that cause a variety of diseases in humans and other animals- similar to SARS has seemed to develop in the Middle East.
Since it was first spotted last year, the coranovirus has infected 34 people and killed 18 of those patients. Nearly all had some connection to the Middle East, according to the Associated Press.
However, this does not mean the virus is only located in the Middle East and health officials should closely monitor any unusual respiratory cases according to the World Health Organization.
Across the world in China, there has been a new bird flu developing since last March. This strain, H7N9 has already had 131 known cases, causing at least 32 deaths.
According to the World Health Organization, these two viruses do have the potential to cause a global epidemic, but only if they evolve into a form spread quickly between humans.
It is still unknown how humans are being infected by the new coronavirus. Some scientists think it may be jumping directly from animals to humans, but the cause could also be from a common environmental exposure.
The virus has been spread to humans via humans but most of those infected were in very close contact with an infected person. There is no evidence the virus is spreading easily between people and all cases of human-to-human transmission have been limited so far, according to the Associated Press.
As for the bird flu H7N9, the flu seems to be jumping from poultry to people at bird markets. Unlike the last bird flu, this strain does not appear to make birds sick and may be spreading silently in poultry according to the Associated Press.
The World Health Organization is stressing people to practice good personal hygiene.
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