- 2017年11月23日13:48 来源：互联网
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A novel coronavirus——Fingers crossed
A new virus worries a twitchy world
MOST of the time, for most people, respiratory diseases such as influenza and the common cold are little more than a snotty inconvenience.
Occasionally, though, the viruses that cause them mutate into something truly nasty.
The Spanish flu of 1918 may have killed more people than the first world war.
More recently, there have been worries about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003 and a strain of flu known as H5N1 in 2008, though neither created the pandemic researchers feared they might.
Now such viruses are in the news again.
Over the past few months two men have been ill with a previously unrecorded type.
One, in Saudi Arabia, has died.
The other, who had recently been there, is seriously ill in a London hospital.
According to the World Health Organisation, the culprit is a sort of coronavirus, the same family as the bug that causes SARS.
Having had close calls with both SARS and H5N1, the world is watching and waiting to see if this new virus possesses the combination of infectiousness and lethality that made those two diseases such a worry.
With a sample size that so far stands at just two, it is hard to know much for certain, although the new bug seems to cause rapid kidney failure in those it infects.
The WHO is looking for other cases, but for now most bug-watchers seem cautiously relaxed.
Indeed, it may be that its discovery shows how well the world's health-monitoring system is working.
Andrew Easton, a virologist at the University of Warwick, reckons the new bug may have come to doctors' attention only because of the surveillance systems set up in the wake of SARS and H5N1.