New Research Shows Overlap of COVID-19 With SARS and MERS

The virus may lead to long-term or permanent pulmonary damage, as seen in SARS and MERS cases.
Loukia Papadopoulos

If you have not heard of COVID-19, then you have likely been hiding under a rock as the virus has spread around the world, bringing panic with it. The virus, also just called the coronavirus, has already taken many casualties and continues to ravage the world.



Now, new imaging research is revealing COVID-19 may overlap with two other dangerous viruses: SARS and MERS. SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome and is an often-deadly form of coronavirus known to infect humans, bats, and other mammals.

It was first recognized at the end of February 2003. MERS stands for Middle East respiratory syndrome and is another often-deadly coronavirus that first surfaced in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

In a statement released by the AMERICAN ROENTGEN RAY SOCIETY, it was noted that "although the imaging features of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are variable and nonspecific, the findings reported thus far do show "significant overlap" with those of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)."

"Early evidence suggests that initial chest imaging will show abnormality in at least 85% of patients, with 75% of patients having bilateral lung involvement initially that most often manifests as subpleural and peripheral areas of ground-glass opacity and consolidation," said in the statement Melina Hosseiny of the University of California at Los Angeles.

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Chest imaging abnormalities

The researchers also found that older age may lead to an overall poorer prognosis. In both SARS and MERS, initial chest imaging abnormalities are more frequently unilateral. However, COVID-19 is more likely to involve both lungs on initial imaging.

"To our knowledge," Hosseiny et al. wrote in their paper in the American Journal of Roentgenology, "pleural effusion, cavitation, pulmonary nodules, and lymphadenopathy have not been reported in patients with COVID-19."

The researchers recommend follow-up in patients recovering from COVID-19 to test for long-term or permanent pulmonary damage, as seen in SARS and MERS cases.

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