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A mysterious lung infection in the central Chinese city of Wuhan is being monitored by the WHO. 59 people had been diagnosed with pneumonia of unknown cause. Seven people are in serious condition. Some of the infected worked at a fresh seafood and produce market in the city.
Pathogen studies have ruled out more common respiratory diseases, including influenza, avian flu and adenovirus. All the patients are being treated under quarantine. Wuhan authorities said on Sunday they had excluded the possibility of SARS, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and bird flu.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms of pneumonia are mainly fever, with a number of patients having difficulty breathing, and chest radiographs showing invasive lesions of both lungs.
The seafood market, which has since been closed, also sold live birds, pheasants, and snakes, along with organs of rabbits and other wildlife.
Authorities have said that there has been no obvious evidence of human-to-human transmission so far, and no health care workers have been infected. At least 163 people who have had close contact with those infected have been placed under medical observation.
If it only transmits from animals to humans, now that the market has been shut down and sanitized, the chances for people to be infected will be low. However the possibility of human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out as respiratory viruses can be transmitted among humans. It is only a matter of how contagious it is.
Hong Kong steps up response: This is reminding us of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which killed almost 800 people about 17 years ago. Its not known whether a SARS-like "coronavirus" has been identified. SARS spread to 37 countries worldwide, infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 from November 2002 to July 2003. The illness is brought on by a coronavirus, and symptoms include fever, cough, severe headache, dizziness and other flu-like complaints.
Dr KK Aggarwal
President CMAAO, HCFI and Past National President IMA