Study of coronavirus cases reveals severity of illness
January 31, 2020 - A study of initial cases of a new viral illness that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan reveals that more than a quarter of hospitalised patients developed a potentially fatal complication requiring intensive care.
The study, reported by The Lancet medical journal, involved the first 41 patients hospitalised with confirmed cases of the virus in Wuhan.
The patients displayed a wide range of symptoms, many of which were similar to those caused by SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which spread around the globe in 2003, eventually infecting more than 8,000 people.
All 41 patients in the study had pneumonia, and most had fever and cough. Some patients had fatigue and more than half of them also experienced shortness of breath. The researchers noted that, unlike SARS, the new virus – known as 2019-nCoV – rarely produces runny noses or intestinal symptoms.
Like SARS, the majority of 2019-nCoV cases affected healthy individuals, with less than a third of cases occurring in people with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.
Twelve patients (29 percent) developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a life-threatening condition which occurs when the body does not receive enough oxygen from the lungs. About a third of the patients needed intensive care, and six of them died.
Two thirds of patients had visited the Huanan seafood market that was linked to the first cases in the virus outbreak, the study found.
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