Mysterious lung disease has broken out in the Central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, which has already infected at least 27 people. The city’s health authorities are reporting this today. According to the Chinese media, the atypical form of pneumonia is reminiscent of SARS, the flu-like virus that killed hundreds of people in China fifteen years ago.
According to the Chinese state newspaper Renmin Ribao, which quotes experts, the source of the outbreak is not yet known. It could be the SARS virus, “but it is more likely that it is another type of severe pneumonia”.
According to the Wuhan Health Commission, many infections can be traced back to a visit to the Huanan fish market in Wuhan. The sick, of whom seven are in very bad shape, has been placed in quarantine. Most patients have a fever, and some also have breathing problems. Experts have traveled to Wuhan to examine the sick.
The patients receive provisional treatment for viral pneumonia. There are no known cases where the disease was transmitted from person to person. Yet the news recalls the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic, which began at the end of 2002, and is considered one of the most dangerous epidemics of our time.
In China, 349 people died in 2003, and another 299 in Hong Kong. International travel caused the disease to spread rapidly, infecting more than 8,000 people in 30 countries and six continents worldwide. It is suspected that the virus was transmitted from animal to human in China, and spread further among people through coughing and sneezing. The disease was fatal for one patient in ten: according to official data, 774 people died worldwide from SARS.
The World Health Organization declared the SARS outbreak in China in May 2004 under control.