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Saudi Arabia has announced eight new deaths from the MERS coronavirus, taking the kingdom's death toll from the disease to 102.
The Saudi health ministry reported that a nine-month-old infant had died on Sunday, raising this month's fatalities to 39.
The ministry said the number of recorded infections had risen to 339, with 143 cases announced since the start of April, representing a 73 percent jump in total infections.
Among the latest infections were four medical staff at a single hospital in Tabuk in the country's northwest.
Panic over the spread of the virus among medical staff in the western city of Jeddah led to the temporary closure of a main hospital's emergency room.
At least four doctors at Jeddah's King Fahd Hospital resigned earlier this month after refusing to treat MERS patients for fear of infection.
MERS virus hasn't changed, not reason for surge in Saudi cases: expert
A German coronavirus expert says the virus responsible for the MERS infection appears not to have changed.
Dr. Christian Drosten says based on what his laboratory has seen so far, this month's surge in MERS cases cannot be explained by mutations in the virus.
….Drosten says the increase in cases may be due to infection control problems in hospitals where the virus has spread as well as milder cases coming forward as the public has become more aware of and concerned about MERS.
(NaturalNews) The MERS outbreak sweeping through Saudi Arabia and Egypt has accelerated yet again with 26 new confirmed cases today. Infections have exploded by 73 percent in just one month, reports Reuters.
What really has virologists alarmed, however, is the 30% death rate currently being observed. As Reuters reports (1) :
Saudi Arabia, where MERS was discovered around two years ago and which remains the country most affected, has now had 339 confirmed cases of MERS, of which 102 have been fatal.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
MERS stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and it has no known treatments or cures in the entire world of western medicine. There are no antibiotics, no vaccines, no medications and no medical interventions practiced by conventional medicine which have any ability to reverse a MERS infection.
A 30% fatality rate is considered extremely alarming in the world of infectious disease. Influenza typically kills fewer than 1 in 1000 people infected, but MERS is so far killing 3 out of 10.
Highly infectious disease
MERS also appears to be highly infectious and easily able to spread among the population. A highly infectious virus that spreads from person to person without requiring direct contact -- i.e. an "airborne" infection -- is considered extremely dangerous because of its ability to multiply extremely rapidly. This trait, when combined with a long incubation period, turns individuals into disease-spreading carriers.
The worst-case profile of a pandemic disease, in fact, is as follows:
• Extremely contagious (easily caught by others)
• Long duration, asymptomatic incubation period
• Resistant or immune to all known medical treatments
• When symptoms appear, they help spread the disease (sneezing, for example)
• High enough fatality rate to kill lots of people, but low enough to keep many carriers alive and spreading the disease
Rapidly becoming an infectious disease of global concern
Does MERS fit this profile? MERS certainly seems to meet the criteria, and a news report from the Sun Star explains that MERS has an incubation period of 3 - 14 days, which is sufficiently long to very effectively spread the disease. The 30% fatality rate is actually a bit higher than what a "successful" pandemic viral strain would prefer, by the way. It kills too many people too quickly and thus might "burn out" more easily in a limited population.
MERS virus from camels and humans called indistinguishable
If infections were coming directly from camels, more disease would be expected in workers
…."We have evidence going back as far as the early 1990s that this virus has been in camels. Human cases didn't start till 2012. So one very important question is what happened that caused this virus to cause severe disease in humans, noticeable disease in humans for the first time in 2012?" said Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital who has helped investigate the new virus in Saudi Arabia as part of a World Health Organization-led team.
….The majority of cases now in Saudi Arabia are not linked to camels, but are associated with person-to-person transmission in hospitals, McGeer said. "Continuing transmission in hospitals is a concern. It's just not possible to tell from the data we have what's driving that."
MERS surge continues; April cases top past 2 years' total
The April surge of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) cases continued today with a report of 16 more in Saudi Arabia, while European health officials observed that the total for this month alone exceeds the total for the preceding 2 years since the disease emerged.
….the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said its global count of MERS-CoV cases reported in April reached 217 yesterday, compared with 207 reported in all previous months since the disease surfaced in 2012.
Officials Confirm First Case of MERS in U.S.
(Reuters) - Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday they have confirmed the first U.S. case of the newly emerging Middle East Respiratory Virus or MERS within U.S. borders.
...MERS, a SARS-like viral disease first detected in 2012, has caused outbreaks in the Middle East and sporadic cases around the world.
Although the vast majority of MERS cases have been in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East, the discovery of sporadic cases in Britain, Greece, France, Italy, Malaysia and other countries have raised concerns about the potential global spread of the disease by infected airline passengers.
Scientists are not yet sure how the MERS virus is transmitted to people, but it has been found in bats and camels, and many experts say camels are the most likely animal reservoir from which humans are becoming infected.
CASES IN COUNTRIES ON OR NEAR THE ARABIAN PENINSULA:
Saudi Arabia: 322 cases (68 deaths)
UAE: 48 cases (7 deaths)
Qatar: 9 cases (5 deaths)
Oman: 4 cases (4 deaths)
Jordan: 4 cases (3 deaths)
Kuwait: 3 cases (1 death)
CASES IN OTHER COUNTRIES:
United States: 1 case (0 deaths)
U.K.: 3 cases (2 deaths)
France: 2 cases (1 death)
Tunisia: 3 cases (1 death)
Italy: 1 case (0 deaths)
Malaysia: 1 case (1 death)
Mers virus spreads to US via Britain
....Public Health England said the man flew on British Airways Flight 262 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to London, and transferred at Heathrow for onward travel to the US, where he was later hospitalised.
“The risk of the infection being passed to other passengers on Flight 262 is extremely low,” the body said. “However, as a precautionary measure, Public Health England has contacted UK passengers who were sitting in the vicinity of the affected passenger to provide health information.”
Saudi health authorities announced Saturday two new deaths from the MERS coronavirus, raising to 109 the number of fatalities since the disease appeared in the kingdom in September 2012. ...
...At the same time, 35 new cases of the severe respiratory disease have been recorded, raising the number of sufferers in the Gulf state over the past two years to 396, the world's highest tally.
MERS Experts Fret About Deadly Virus' Great Unknowns
With cases of a virulent and highly fatal pathogen on the rise, including the first-known occurrence in the United States, epidemiologists and public health officials say some of their biggest concerns about the disease lie in the basic information that they still don't have about it.
"We don't know exactly what's happening," said Dr. David Swerdlow, the head of the MERS monitoring team at the U.S. CDC. "I think there are still some questions that are unanswered about how it's transmitted, how commonly it's occurring, what the prevalence is in the population, what is the spectrum of illness."
Until recently, infections from the disease largely seemed to occur in patients who had direct contact with an infected camel, which is believed to be the source of the disease, or with health care workers who spend extensive time with the most ill patients.
But a recent report by the World Health Organization said that 75% of new infections were transmitted between humans alone, and most of the latest Saudi patients had no known exposure either to camels or health care facilities.
That doesn't necessarily mean that the virus has mutated to become more easily transmissible, experts say. The spike could be related to poor health care procedures, or a higher vigilance for testing, or even a natural seasonal cycle of the virus, but it raises important questions that demand answers.
"With this disease, if your epidemiologic data are a month old, it's outdated," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "Just what role does a lack of adequate respiratory protection in the healthcare setting play? I believe that we must entertain the possibility that there may be mildly ill or asymptomatically infected people who might transmit this."
MERS Shows That The Next Pandemic Is Only a Plane Flight Away
...CDC officials played down the larger threat of the first U.S. MERS case. “In this interconnected world we live in, we expected MERS to make its way to the U.S.,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on May 2. “We have been preparing for this.” ….
But if that Indiana case remains isolated — and MERS itself never becomes the global health threat that SARS was — it only means we were lucky.
As Schuchat put it, exotic, emerging diseases are now “just a plane’s ride away.” In the past, before international air travel became common, emerging pathogens could begin infecting people but remain geographically isolated for decades. Scientists now think that HIV was active among people in Central Africa for decades before it really began spreading globally in the 1970s, again thanks largely to international air travel. Today there’s almost no spot on the planet — from the rainforests of Cameroon to the hinterland of China — so remote that someone couldn’t make it to a heavily populated city like New York or Hong Kong in less than 24 hours, potentially carrying a new infectious disease with them.
The surest way to prevent the spread of new infectious disease would be to shut down international travel and trade, which is obviously not going to happen. The occasional pandemic might simply be one of the prices we pay for a globalized world. But we can do much more to try to detect and snuff out new pathogens before they endanger the health of the planet.
….as it turns out, the driving factor behind the spread of new diseases isn’t just globalization. It’s also political denial. ….
Indonesian woman suspected of having contracted MERS virus
JAKARTA: An Indonesian woman is suspected of having contracted the MERS corona virus after returning from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
The woman is being treated in a hospital in Medan.
Three other suspected cases have also been reported in Pekanbaru in Riau on Wednesday.
…The Medan resident died of MERS-related symptoms only two days after returning home.
Mers cases reach more than 400
Eighteen more people in Saudi Arabia have contracted the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers), bringing the number of cases in the kingdom to 414, its health ministry said, more than a quarter of whom have died.
…So far 115 of the people in Saudi Arabia who contracted the virus have died…
Jordanian Dies of MERS Virus
…second fatality from the disease this year and fourth since 2012.
Sweeping surge in MERS cases due to infection control problem in Saudi hospitals
The sweeping surge in MERS cases over the past five weeks appears in large measure to be due to problems with infection control practices in some Saudi Arabian hospitals, the World Health Organization suggests.
….The case count climbs daily, sometimes multiple times a day. On Wednesday, 28 new cases -- and six deaths -- were reported on the Saudi health ministry's website. By end of the day, the country's count stood at 449 cases and 121 deaths, about 80 per cent of the global total. But those numbers are likely already out of date.
Despite these explanations for the surge, Fukuda says it also seems to be true that there has been an increase in MERS cases in the community, among people not thought to have been infected in hospitals. What's behind that rise, which may be seasonal, is not currently known.
The WHO is keeping a close eye on the pattern of community cases, looking to see whether there is any evidence that the MERS virus is becoming more adept at transmitting from person to person. So far, Fukuda says, "We don't see that."
More MERS Virus Cases Pop Up in Saudi Arabia; Death Toll at 121
Saudi Arabia has identified 18 new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), it said late on Wednesday, pushing the total number of infections in the country so far to 449.
Four people died from the disease on Wednesday, taking the total death toll in Saudi Arabia to 121 since MERS, a form of coronavirus, was identified two years ago, the Health Ministry said in a statement on its website.
The rate of infection in Saudi Arabia has surged in recent weeks after big outbreaks associated with hospitals in Jeddah and Riyadh. The total number of infections nearly doubled in April and has risen by a further 21 percent already in May.
…..Eight of the new cases were in Jeddah, five in the capital Riyadh, one in Najran. There were three new cases in Medina and one in Mecca, two cities that receive large influxes of Muslim pilgrims from around the country and overseas.
Half of them were in contact with people who had previously been diagnosed as having MERS, the ministry said.
Lebanon Records First Case of MERS Virus
BEIRUT May 9, 2014 (AP)
….the patient had recently returned from a visit to several Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia records 5 more deaths from MERS coronavirus
Five more people have died in Saudi Arabia after contracting an often fatal Middle East respiratory virus as the number of new infections in the kingdom climbs higher ...
….Evidence so far suggests that a possible seasonal rise in incoming cases combined with insufficient infection prevention and control measures could be to blame for the rise in infections there, according to the WHO.
"Current evidence does not suggest that a recent increase in numbers reflects a significant change in the transmissibility of the virus," the WHO said Wednesday. "There is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission in the community and the transmission pattern overall remained unchanged."
MERS: A Virologist's View From Saudi Arabia
….You cannot compare the new numbers to those from a few months ago. Until the 26th of March, 459 tests had been done in all of Saudi Arabia this year. Then in just 1 month, just in the city of Jeddah, 4629 PCR tests were done. …
Before, tests were done on patients who had pneumonia and required [intensive care]. But now people are being tested not because they are sick, but because they had contact with a patient. Some of these tested positive, but many of them don’t really get sick.
….The question of whether there is a mild, short-lived infection in some people is scientifically interesting.
….I have seen results from patients with huge virus concentrations. These patients are highly contagious.
WHO warns of risk to Syrian refugees as Mers virus cases increase sharply
UN health body fears secondary infections may be rising, raising potential for global spread and stirring memories of Sars virus
The World Health Organisation (WHO) will hold urgent talks next week on the often fatal Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) virus, after a sharp increase in infections in Saudi Arabia, and the first reported case in Lebanon.
The virus has killed 164 people in the Middle East in the past two years – 126 in Saudi Arabia alone – and the number of cases in numerous countries in the region has risen in recent weeks.
There are fears that secondary infections may be rising, raising the potential for a greater global spread, and stirring memories of the Sars virus, which claimed more than 700 lives in east Asia in 2003, causing mass fear and disruption.
Mers is a coronavirus, like Sars, but is not transmitted as easily. However, more than 30% of people infected with it die, as opposed to a 10% mortality rate with Sars patients. The relatively high death rate has alarmed public health officials across the region, particularly those working with vulnerable Syrian refugee populations.
Another five deaths and 14 new infections were announced by Saudi authorities on Friday.
A 5-year old Egyptian child has been quarantined for suspicion of contracting the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), commonly known as coronavirus.
Globally, from September 2012 to [May 5, 2014], WHO has been informed of a total of 496 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV. This total includes 229 cases reported between 11 April and 4 May by Saudi Arabia, and the recent reports of 3 cases from Jordan, and one case each from Egypt, the United States, and Yemen.
WHO will update the global total number of deaths as soon as official information is provided by countries.
MERS IN ABU DHABI: NUMBER OF CASES STILL RISING
….the potentially fatal virus has now spread to Yemen.
….More than two‐thirds affected were healthcare workers...
Four more cases were reported from Abu Dhabi on Thursday 8 May, but it’s not known whether they’re linked to the cluster of cases in Al Ain City.
Since April 2012, 536 laboratory‐confirmed cases of human infection with MERS have been reported to WHO, including 145 deaths. To date, affected Arab countries include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Jordan and now Yemen, as well as Egypt and Tunisia.
It’s also been reported in Europe (the UK, France, Germany, Greece and Italy); the Philippines, Malaysia; and the USA.
NEW YORK (AP) — Health officials have confirmed a second U.S. case of a mysterious virus that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East.
The latest case is not an American — he is a resident of Saudi Arabia, visiting Florida, who is now in an Orlando hospital.
He was diagnosed with MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Sunday night. It is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death.
Fortunately, the U.C. cases so far have not been severe. The first case, a man in Indiana, was released from a hospital late last week. And this latest patient is doing well, officials said.