Doctors in Dubai began investigating a possible outbreak of the coronavirus, which first emerged in Saudi Arabia last September. The research, published in the journal Lancet, is the first reported infection with a new coronavirus not found in humans in over five years. The virus in question, known as NCoV, was recently identified in nonhuman primates, the first sign that it could be mutating rapidly to become a potentially deadly virus for humans.

However, it's not quite a pandemic. It's likely that the outbreak, which began when a pregnant woman began feeling ill, will be short lived, Dr. Hossam Abdelwahed, the chief epidemiologist for the Dubai health authority told the Associated Press. The bacteria is still not pathogenic to humans, meaning it cannot cause illness.

WHAT ARE PANDEMICS?

In layman's terms, a pandemic is when a new virus or bacteria becomes contagious, and infects large numbers of people. With the WHO's annual report naming five newly discovered outbreaks in the past year, there have been two documented pandemics in the last 15 years. A 2009 respiratory illness — which spread through Sahelian villages in Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal — marked the worst outbreak in recent history.

A fatal epidemic of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, swept the planet in 2003, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing close to 800.

WHAT'S CAUSING THESE OUTBREAKS?

A broad range of environmental factors including pollution, negligence and poor sanitation combine to create the perfect host conditions for disease outbreaks. The flu — carried by more than 100,000 birds — also has proved to be a deadly flu for humans.

What you need to know: Flu is deadly. But how does it spread? How do people get sick? What's the evidence that flu viruses are mutating?

Cortisol produces a surge of molecules in your body called epinephrine. Your reaction to stress can physically change your skin to become red and irritated, but this release of cortisol makes it harder for you to fight infection. This can cause you to become more ill, leading to a coughing fit or full-body shiver. Cortisol also creates an inflammatory response, which can disrupt your immune system.

Your immune system's supply of antibodies is usually designed to fight a specific virus but when an illness is resistant to the antibodies, a new host virus can take over, with the result that new infections can be difficult to combat.

What you need to know: Flu is infectious, but how does it spread?

According to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, when a respiratory virus begins spreading, the first step in reducing the risk of exposure is cleaning up respiratory droplets. Once exposure has occurred, taking preventive steps to limit these contacts is recommended.

--Los Angeles Times