Media Advisory: Ohio State Scientist Available for Comment on New SARS-like Virus
Colorized transmission electron micrograph of the novel coronavirus that emerged in 2012. (Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
WOOSTER, Ohio -- A scientist at Ohio State University's Ohio
Agricultural Research and Development Center can offer insight into a
new coronavirus that is being blamed for 12 illnesses and five deaths
internationally over the past 10 months, and which appears to begin to
be spreading, but with limited person-to-person spread.
Saif is known nationally and internationally for her work on enteric
viruses, including coronaviruses, which affect both food-producing
animals and humans. Saif is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Distinguished University Professor in the Food Animal Health Research Program on OARDC's Wooster campus. OARDC is the research arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
members include the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory
syndrome. In the 2003 SARS epidemic, more than 8,000 people worldwide
became ill and 774 died.
Most of the cases of the new coronavirus,
or "NCoV" for "novel coronavirus," have occurred in the Middle East,
starting in Amman, Jordan, last April, followed by cases in Qatar and
Last week, the World Health Organization reported
three cases of coronavirus infection in the United Kingdom. All three
cases are of members of the same family, one of whom recently traveled
to the Middle East.
This type of coronavirus doesn't normally
spread easily from person to person, so the transmission to family
members in the United Kingdom has piqued the interest of health
authorities. While the traveler's illness is severe, family members'
cases are mild, and WHO says no sustained person-to-person transmission
has been identified.
Saif's work on coronavirus focuses primarily
on swine and cattle -- the pathogen can be deadly especially in young
pigs -- and how the virus can be transmitted between animal species and
between animals and people. In cattle, Saif's lab documented that
respiratory coronavirus infections frequently occur in animals shortly
after arrival to feedlots following long-distance shipping and
identified them as a component of the shipping fever complex.
origin of this novel coronavirus has not been determined, but analysis
of the virus genome suggests that it is most closely related to bat
coronaviruses, Saif said.
"WHO and CDC (Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention) are closely monitoring the situation, but have
not recommended any travel restrictions at this point," Saif said.
"Still, anyone who has recently traveled internationally, especially to
the Middle East, and is suffering from an acute, serious respiratory
illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath, should see a health
Saif can be reached for comment at 330-263-3742 or firstname.lastname@example.org.