Coronavirus: 10-year-old boy raises fears Wuhan virus could spread undetected
Doctors said that he "was shedding virus without symptoms."
A 10-year-old Chinese boy who appeared healthy but had contracted the coronavirus whilst on a family trip to Wuhan, and "was shedding virus without symptoms".
The boy's case, published in the Lancet medical journal on January 24, was the first to show person-to-person and health-care associated spread of asymptomatic virus. The boy's parents were infected but had a normal body temperature when they sought treatment.
The boy's lungs were also scanned "on the insistence by the nervous parents" and showed signs of infection, which was confirmed by swabs of the back of his nose and throat. This suggested that the boy was capable of transmitting the virus even though the kind of tests used in airport screening for the virus would not identify him as a carrier.
Later, the virus spread to a sixth relative who had not traveled to virus-hit Wuhan.
What is alarming is that the boy appeared healthy and was only diagnosed with the virus after his parents insisted he too should undergo test. This raises concern that the newly identified virus, dubbed 2019-nCoV, may turn out to be harder to detect and contain than SARS that erupted into a global epidemic, reported NDTV.
In the boy's case, his family flew from their home in Shenzhen, a city in the south of the country next to Hong Kong, to Wuhan on December 29. They visited relatives there, including one who was in a hospital and two days after they arrived, the Health Commission of Hubei province announced that a group of 27 people in the city had unexplained cases of pneumonia.
"You may have mild disease spreaders that would be feeding sort of a community outbreak and they don't go to hospital because they don't feel that bad," said Ralph Baric, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Baric has studied coronaviruses for decades and warned about their threat before the 2003 SARS outbreak.
The coronavirus has already spread to 15 countries and infected close to 6,000 people and killed over 200 in China.
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