Wuhan health authorities reported the first death due to a recent outbreak of pneumonia caused by an unknown virus. Simultaneously, scientists released the genomic sequence of the unknown RNA virus.
According to the Wuhan authorities, the death was that of a 61-year-old who had severe pneumonia and respiratory failure. In addition, the patient also had other issues like chronic liver disease and abdominal tumors. The patient, therefore, became the first victim of the Wuhan pneumonia. Also, a total of 44 patients are identified to suffer from the disease, of which 33 are said to stable whereas rest 11 are severely ill, according to the WHO.
It all started on December 12 in Wuhan, a small city 700 miles from Beijing, where mysterious pneumonia started to pop up. The infection quickly spread creating panic among the authorities. Also, this reminded authorities of a similar situation in 2003, where SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) spread to almost 8,000 people. As of now, no new cases are identified since January 3. Authorities also added that positive individuals are in isolation and receiving the treatment.
The unknown Etiology
The most notable thing about this outbreak is the unknown agent behind this chaos. The agent is a single-stranded positive-sense RNA virus. Scientists, earlier this week, collected samples from an infected person. The sequencing of the virus identified it as belonging to the coronavirus group, the same group in which SARS and MERS belong. Initially, further research was needed to confirm the viral agent as the novel source of pneumonia. Later confirmation came from the authorities stating that 41 people are positive for the novel agent. Coronavirus is present in bats from where it is spread to numerous mammals and to humans. Speculations claim that the virus may have spread from the Wuhan seafood market which sells meat of exotic animals. Also, some people in the affected population include dealers and vendors who work in the market which eventually led to shutting down of market on January 1.
In addition, authorities are also on a close watch on the spread of the disease. As of now, no reports claim a single direct transmission between humans. The WHO also added the same information on the Wuhan pneumonia report. However, experts believe it too soon to conclude on such a statement. With scientists successfully sequencing the genome of the virus, it is high time for medical agencies to develop new diagnostic tools. Such diagnostic tools will help us to keep a check on the spread of the disease by testing the population in the nearby regions, thereby helping nearby countries in isolating and treating the affected individuals. WHO also sends precautions to travelers to avoid contact with sick people in Wuhan and to wash hands frequently. Further research and strict health measures may help us avoid deaths.
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