The new virus is named hCoV-EMC, meaning human coronavirus-Erasmus Medical Center, after the Dutch hospital where it was first isolated. It has killed 11 people since September of last year and attacks multiple systems of the body, unlike SARS which was specifically a respiratory virus.
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The Global Post reported Friday that the University of Hong Kong team published their results this week in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Lead researcher and study author Yuen Kwok-yung told the South China Morning Post, ”The SARS coronavirus infects very few human cell lines. But this new virus can infect many types of human cell lines, and kill cells rapidly.”
Patients infected with the Erasmus virus die of multiple organ failure as the organism attacks the body at multiple points, particularly the kidneys. Thus far, the virus has a 65 percent mortality rate, compared to an 11 percent mortality rate in patients infected with SARS.
Scientists are rushing to create a vaccine, even as they attempt to gain more knowledge of the pathogen, including questions as to where it came from, how rare or widespread it is, whether all forms of the disease are equally severe, what animals it thrives in and how it makes the leap to human hosts.
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