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Should I be concerned about new virus?

Miriam Falco | 5/29/2013, 5:27 p.m.
Infectious disease experts say they wouldn't be surprised if a new virus that's sickened 12 people and killed six shows up in the United States. The first cases of the novel coronavirus, which is in the same family as SARS and the common cold, were found to have occurred in an Amman, Jordan, hospital in April, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CNNInfectious disease experts say they wouldn't be surprised if a new virus that's sickened 12 people and killed six shows up in the United States. Th

— It's not known how the virus spreads between humans, be it droplets in the air from coughing or sneezing or touching contaminated surfaces, but WHO isn't ruling out contact with surfaces as a possible mechanism of transmission.

It's also not known how long the virus can live outside the body. The SARS virus was shown to live as long as four days. Other viruses, such as HIV, lose their ability to be infectious within hours.

How can I help my family?

While there's no cure for MERS-CoV, there are things you can do to protect your loved ones -- the same measures you would take to prevent spreading the flu or other viruses.

If you've recently returned from Middle East and aren't feeling well, stay home and avoid contact with babies and people who may already be sick. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze (tissue, sleeve or elbow, not your hands) and wash your hands frequently.

There currently is no vaccine or treatment for MERS-CoV.

A lot has been learned about new coronaviruses over the past 10 years by studying the SARS virus because the National Institutes of Health have continued to support research on it, Denison says, adding that he's hopeful that knowledge could be "potentially applied towards vaccines," if MERS-CoV develops into a pandemic.

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