China’s viral pneumonia outbreak may have jumped species barrier, raising fears of pandemic

The finding that the outbreak of viral pneumonia in China that has struck 59 people may be caused by a coronavirus, the family of viruses behind Sars, which spread to 37 countries in 2003, causing global panic and killing more than 750 people, means that health authorities will be watching closely.

China says the illness is not Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), nor Mers (Middle East respiratory syndrome), both of which are caused by coronaviruses, and so far it appears milder than both. Unlike Sars, it does not appear to spread easily between humans and unlike Mers, which has a mortality rate of about 35%, nobody has died.

Read more…