SARS-like symptoms isolate 5 in Denmark

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(CBS/AP) A family of four and another person were under isolation in a Danish hospital Wednesday after exhibiting symptoms of a respiratory illness related to SARS, the Agence France Presse news agency reported.

The patients got in touch with their doctors after a health advisory was issued Monday for sick people who had recently traveled to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, according to the report.

Odense University Hospital's chief physician Svend Stenvang Petersen told AFP the family's father had gone to Saudi Arabia and the unrelated person was in Qatar. All five patients were experiencing flu-like symptoms, fever and coughing, Petersen said.

"We have put them in isolation because we don't know how the virus spreads. So just as with bird and swine flu we have admitted them and isolated them so that we prevent the spread to others," Petersen told AFP.

"We do not have any medicine that works against this virus," he told AFP.

The germ is a coronavirus, from a family of viruses that cause the common cold as well as SARS, the severe acute respiratory syndrome that killed some 800 people, mostly in Asia, in a 2003 epidemic.

In the latest case, British officials alerted the World Health Organization on Saturday of the new virus in a man who transferred from Qatar to be treated in London. He had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and is now being treated in an intensive care unit after suffering kidney failure.

WHO said virus samples from the patient are almost identical to those of a 60-year-old Saudi national who died earlier this year. The agency isn't currently recommending travel restrictions and said the source of infection remains unknown.

Saudi officials said they were concerned the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage next month, which brings millions of people to Saudi Arabia from all over the world, could provide more opportunities for the virus to spread. They advised pilgrims to keep their hands clean and wear masks in crowded places.

The Hajj has previously sparked outbreaks of diseases including the flu, meningitis and polio.

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