Nearly 57 percent of those who have contracted the MERS virus have died. Worldwide, 58 cases have been diagnosed, with 33 becoming fatalities. Will this deadly virus be coming to your neighborhood?
The disease is believed to have its beginnings in Saudi Arabia. Recently three cases were reported in Italy, believed to have been infected by a man who had returned from a visit to the Middle East.
The World Health Organization has asked medical personnel to be extremely vigilant. This new virus, similar in some aspects to SARS, has the possibility of becoming a worldwide pandemic. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS), was first discovered in the countries of the Middle East, hence its strange nomenclature. If infected, it causes coughing, fever and pneumonia.
Travelers have transported the virus to Britain, France, Germany and Italy. Infected people have also been found in Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
“International concern about these infections is high, because it is possible for this virus to move around the world. There have been now several examples where the virus has moved from one country to another through travelers,” WHO reported.
“Consequently, all countries in the world need to ensure that their healthcare workers are aware of the virus and the disease it can cause and that, when unexplained cases of pneumonia are identified, MERS-CoV should be considered.”
The heaviest concentration of the disease is in Saudi Arabia. Forty cases occurred in Saudi Arabia, many in a hospital in the eastern province of al-Ahsa.
“So far, about 75 percent of the cases in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been in men and most have occurred in people with one or more major chronic conditions.”
Saudi medical researchers are tirelessly working to find a way to treat, and possible control the virus.
The WHO has not yet drawn up advice for travelers ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in October, which draws millions of Muslims to Saudi Arabia.
Unless you have a family member who travels frequently to the Middle East, MERS may not be coming to your neighborhood soon.
The Guardian Express