Patient with SARS-like virus dies in France

Patient with SARS-like virus dies in France
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POSTED: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 8:30am

UPDATED: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 8:34am

France has recorded its first death of a patient diagnosed with a SARS-like virus that just recently was found in humans, according to the French government and the hospital treating the man.

The patient -- the first of two people in France to be diagnosed with novel coronavirus -- died of organ failure Tuesday at University Hospital of Lille, the hospital said.

The patient had been treated at the hospital since May 9.

The man contracted nCoV while visiting the Arabian Peninsula, said Marisol Touraine, France's minister of social affairs and health, in a statement.

The second patient, also male, was in stable but very serious condition, the hospital said. One of the patients shared a room with the other and contracted the virus.

Novel coronavirus, which is in the same family as SARS, had infected 44 people worldwide as of last week, most of them in the Middle East, according to the World Health Organization. Half of them have died.

Earlier this month, the WHO said two health care workers in Saudi Arabia became ill while treating patients.

NCoV is part of a family called coronaviruses, which cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, as well as a variety of animal diseases. However, the new virus is not SARS.

NCoV acts like a cold virus and attacks the respiratory system, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said. But symptoms, which include fever and a cough, are severe and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea have also been seen, according to the WHO.

It's not yet known how humans contract the virus, experts have said. Most of the cases so far have been seen in older men with other medical conditions; precise numbers are hard to come by, as officials don't know how many people might contract a mild form of the coronavirus.

Cases have been identified in eight countries including France and Saudi Arabia, according to the WHO. Other European countries include Germany and the United Kingdom.

No cases have been reported in the United States, but infectious disease experts have said it would not be surprising. 

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