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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Researchers: New virus may have come from bats; Qatari likely infected at home


The 49-year-old Qatari man infected with a newly discovered virus may have caught the bug at home, researchers are saying.

Though he recently visited Saudi Arabia to perform umrah, the man was back in Qatar for more than 10 days before he got sick, a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control report (posted below) states. 

Because the incubation period for a virus infection is about a week, he likely acquired the illness in Qatar, not the kingdom, the Washington Post reports.

Researchers racing to find out more about the virus, which killed a Saudi man in June and has caused renal failure in the Qatari man, are looking at possible infection through contact with animals.

Bats carry a strain similar to the virus that infected the two men, but they usually do not infect people. Bats, which have been sighted in Qatar, also carry SARS, which hails from the same family as the new virus and killed nearly a 1,000 people in 2003.

WP reports:

A key question is whether the two cases are tips of an iceberg, with other cases going unseen. To help answer that, epidemiologists are interviewing about 80 people with recent contact with the Qatari man.

How the men became infected is unknown. The Qatari is too ill to be interviewed.

The Qatari patient had “contact with camels and sheep,” (Nick Phin, an epidemiologist at the British government’s Health Protection Agency), said. “But a lot of people in the Middle East have contact with camels and sheep. We are not aware of any exotic exposures.”

No new cases of the virus have been detected, and doctors are repeatedly stressing that people should not panic about the virus, advising people to “go about your normal business.”

Here’s the report:


Credit: Photo by Kate

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