Frenchman Dies From SARS-Like Virus

The new virus has killed 22 of its 44 known victims.

May 28, 2013, 10:29 AM

May 28, 2013— -- A Frenchman has died after contracting a SARS-like virus that has killed 22 of its 44 known victims, the Associated Press reported.

The 65-year-old man, whose name has not been made public, was hospitalized with respiratory symptoms after a trip to Dubai in mid-April. His hospital roommate also tested positive for the illness, according to the AP.

The new virus, dubbed MERS-CoV for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, was first identified in September 2012 following the infections of a Qatari man in a British hospital and a woman who died in Saudi Arabia. Like its cousin SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, it can cause pneumonia and organ failure. But unlike SARS, which a decade ago sickened more than 8,000 people and killed 775, it doesn't appear to spread as easily from person to person.

Although European countries such as the United Kingdom and France have seen cases of MERS-CoV, the majority of cases have clustered in the Arabian Peninsula, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"CDC recommends that U.S. travelers to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula monitor their health and see a doctor right away if they develop fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath. They should tell the doctor about their recent travel," the agency said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia has seen 32 cases of MERS-CoV, 17 of which were fatal, according to the World Health Organization. The majority of the country's cases stemmed from an outbreak at an Al-Ahsa health care facility, where 22 patients have been sickened by the virus and 10 have died.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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