French health authorities confirmed a 65-year old Frenchman has contracted France’s first case of an extremely dangerous respiratory virus related to SARS, according to CBC news. Authorities are attempting to track down anyone who may have come in contact with the man to stop further infection.
The novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of 18 people in four countries. The virus also has the potential to incite acute pneumonia and kidney failure.
According to the Health Ministry, the victim became sick after returning from the United Arab Emirates. The man has been isolated and under medical surveillance in a northern France hospital since April 23, said Government Health Director Jean-Yves Grail. He has been receiving blood transfusions and respiratory assistance.
The ministry said the man’s diagnosis was confirmed Wednesday.
The World Health Organization has received reports of 30 cases of the virus since September 2012. The virus has appeared in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, Qatar, Britain and Germany. Health officials believe the virus has already made its way from person to person.
Marisol Touraine, France’s health minister, has said this is an isolated incident. Authorities are doing everything they can to combat further spreading of the virus. They have also set up a hotline in order for the public to get information about the virus.
The WHO has told countries to check out anyone who has an unexplained case of pneumonia.
"Any virus that has the potential to develop into something that is highly transmissible between people, including the coronavirus, is a major concern," said WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl.
Currently, health authorities are not sure how the virus is spreading. It does not seem to be as easily transmitted between humans as SARS or the flu. However, it may be contagious through close contact with those who have the virus. For example, it may have been passed between family members in Britain or health workers in Jordan taking care of patients.
This new coronavirus is closely connected to a type of bat virus. Researchers are analyzing whether contact with animals like bats, goats or camels can cause infection.
"We still don't know the animal reservoir of this virus or the source of exposure," said Hartl. "We need a solid epidemiological investigation to nail down a common behavior between patients...All we can tell people at the moment is they should be very vigilant about their basic hygiene practices."
In Saudi Arabia five people have died from the disease and five have been hospitalized.
There is currently no indication of any environmetal-related issues that may be causing the virus to spread in the Middle East.
The severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS, took the lives of 800 people in 2003.