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Coronavirus - a new threat

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

It' s been a decade SINCE the first reports of SARS- severe acute respiratory syndrome- surfaced in Asia, then spread throughout Europe, and North and South America.

Now, 10 years later, a new virus, the Middle East Syndrome Corona Virus, or MERS, hasn't popped up in the United States, but still has the attention of doctors monitoring its movement from the Texas Medical Center.

"Half the cases we've seen so far have been older and have had underlying medical conditions," said Dr. Catherine Troisi, of the University of Texas School of Public Health.

Houston is an oil and gas city. Many residents travel to the Middle East, where this new virus originated, on business. It's a concern for doctors, but not as much of a worry as an upcoming religious pilgrimage.

"The Hajj which is over 3 million Muslims go to the Middle East for this religious event and it is taking place in mid October," Troisi said. "Get a lot of people together, and there is some concern about that if the virus transmits easily person to person."

No one is recommending avoiding traveling to the Middle East, and no one is saying the new virus is cause for panic.

But it is something to be aware of. Symptoms of MERS include high fever and coughing. While those symptoms are not exclusive to the new virus, the CDC is still in the process of creating a testing kit for MERS and there is no vaccine as of now.

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