October 19th at Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea, the first victim fell prey of a pneumonia-like virus. As of November 2nd, a total of 50 people have been quarantined, and nearly 1,700 are under government monitoring.
Experts are under the impression that these infected individuals are suffering from severe atypical pneumonia. The 50 confined patients are exhibiting symptoms such as coughing and fever, but doctors are claiming that their conditions are not life threatening. They are currently held in isolation in 7 state-run hospitals. All of the patients have tested negative for popular germs and viruses, such as brucellosis, Q fever, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. The only virus that did come up as positive was rhinovirus, but epidemiologists believe that rhinovirus has nothing to do with this sort of outbreak.
Doctors are still unsure of what caused this sickness. The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) is not ruling out the plausibility of a new mutated virus. The school has informed experts that some of the students visited an animal farm in Chungcheong Province and observed a milk cow show. Correlation between these events is still being debated.
KCDC Director Yang Byung-Guk believes that pollutants at school laboratories infected the patients. He claims “all of them got sick after working at laboratories at the school’s College of Animal Bioscience and Technology building.” Yang is also under the impression that a rapid spread is unlikely, but the possibility should not be discounted.
During the week of the infection, over 500 people were at the building in which the contamination took place. So far, none have shown any symptoms of this virus, but they have been told to report to the KCDC immediately if something were to change.
With the careful containment and examination precautions taking place, the chances of this potentially new virus spreading are slim to none.