Indian school teacher undergoes treatment for Streptococcal infection in China

The mysterious virus bears a resemblance to SARS

china-health-control-virus-outbreak-bangkok-Reuters Tourist line-up in a health control at the arrival section at Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok, Thailand, Januaruy 19, 2020 | Reuters/Jorge Silva

A 45-year-old Indian school teacher in the Chinese city of Shenzhen is undergoing treatment for a Streptococcal infection which was initially suspected to be a case of the mysterious SARS-like coronavirus prevalent in the country.

Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses, but only six are known to infect people. At the mild end they cause the common cold, but SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is a coronavirus that killed nearly 650 people in China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Preeti Maheshwari, a teacher at an international school in Shenzhen, is being treated for Streptococcal infection, her husband Ashuman Khowal told PTI from Shenzhen.

He said the doctors said she was being treated for the infection in the intensive care unit and is currently on a ventilator and other supporting systems.

Initially it was suspected that Maheshwari may have been suffering from a new type of coronavirus. Khowal, however, clarified that his wife had been diagnosed as having Streptococcal infection.

Chinese city of Wuhan is currently under the grip of a new mysterious viral pneumonia. According to the official media reports, tentative diagnosis of the pneumonia is caused by a coronavirus.

The virus has caused alarm in China because of its connection to SARS.

According to the reports from Wuhan, where the virus started surfacing few weeks ago, 17 new cases have been reported, taking the total number of cases to 62.

A total of 19 people have been cured and discharged from the hospital, and the rest remain in isolation receiving treatment, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Two people in Shenzhen are currently in quarantine at the Third People's Hospital, which specialises in the treatment of infectious diseases, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

India on Friday issued an advisory to its nationals visiting China following a second death due to the outbreak of the new strain of pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan where over 500 Indian medical students are studying.

"An infection with a novel coronavirus has been reported from China. As on 11th January, 2020, 41 confirmed cases have been reported so far," said the travel warning issued by India.

Travel-related cases have been reported, one each in Thailand and Japan.

Over 500 Indian students study in the Wuhan city's medical colleges of the Chinese universities. Most of them appear to have left for home for the Chinese New Year holidays.

The clinical signs and symptoms of coronavirus infection are mainly fever with a few patients having difficulty in breathing, the Indian travel warning said.

Mode of transmission is unclear as of now. However, so far there is little evidence of significant human-to-human transmission, it said.

The patients showed symptoms such as fever or cough, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said.

Epidemiological investigations into the 17 new cases are underway and close contacts are being traced, the authority said, adding that Wuhan will continue to expand the search area, identify suspected cases and conduct sampling tests.

Epidemiological analysis of the previously published cases found that some cases had no exposure to Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which is believed to be related to most of the infected cases. It has been temporarily closed while disinfection is carried out, the Xinhua report said.

A total of 681 among 763 close contacts who were placed under medical observation have been released. No cases were found among the close contacts.

[Edit: This story has been corrected to reflect new developments]