New SARS-like virus identified

I am back again after a long interval during which I had spine surgery. It was my first experience with an operation. I have seen over 500 of them from the OR side for a project on anesthesia and pain, but had yet to experience anesthesia myself. It was very interesting, really. A very smooth induction, and a very smooth emergence without nausea and vomiting–both pretty common post-anesthesia, but less so with some of the agents that are now being used. It is ironic that in the midst of a long standing project and interest in pain, I had the “privilege” of experience both. I find that most of my ideas come from experience.

My first seminar of the year on medical geography begins today, and I am excited to meet the new graduate students (17)

The subject of today’s posting is the new SARS-like coronavirus that has been identified in two patients: one in Saudi Arabia who died, and another in the UK. It is difficult to ascertain what the significance of this newly identified virus is. Are these patients just two of many who have contracted the virus, and it was not identified previously? Are these isolated cases? Is this the beginning of an epidemic? Only time will tell.

The rapid identification of the virus demonstrates the importance of new technologies for identifying the genomes of viruses and other pathogens. Identifying genotype can now occur quickly using DNA/RNA amplification techniques, and this allows placement of the virus on a phylogenetic tree, which is a statistical and graphical technique for ascertaining similarities between viruses.
See the following website for an excellent glossary:
http://www.genomicglossaries.com/content/sequencing_gloss.asp

This virus is not *SARS*. There are many coronaviruses, with renewed interest since the SARS outbreak. Some of these can cause respiratory symptoms, and others gastrointestinal symptoms.

Only time will tell whether this particular virus will be consequential for human health. It is impossible to tell from only two cases.

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About epihealth

Professor of Epidemiology and Medical Geography, University of Washington, Seattle and Adjunct Prof, Depts of Medicine (Div of Infectious Diseases), Family Medicine, Health Services, and Global Health. President, Health Improvement and Promotion Alliance-Ghana www.hip-ghana.org Expertise in infectious diseases, epidemiology and clinical epidemiology, epi. of pain, community health, travel medicine, tuberculosis, disease control.
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