Saudi Arabia SARS-Like Virus Strikes Again but Will It Reach the US?

Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabia SARS-like virus MERS, strikes again, but will it manage to reach the US? As the state has been attacked by the MERS virus (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), another victim has died.

Reports have shown that the new virus has been linked to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which is a virus that killed around 800 people in 2003 when it spread globally. The SARS virus is one that frequently causes a common cold.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is working towards increasing their knowledge of the MERS virus in order to better understand the risks involved. For example, they are seeking to find out exactly how the virus spreads, and how further infections may be prevented. It has presented travelers with information about the virus, and is also working with health departments, hospitals and other partners in order to prepare for potential cases in the US.

The information they do have, is that the MERS virus is a is viral respiratory illness. It was discovered in Saudi Arabia last year, and is the product of a coronavirus named MERS-CoV. A coronavirus is defined as a common virus, which many people will be infected with at some point in their life.

Most people found to be suffering from the MERS-CoV infection, develop a severe acute respiratory illness. Their symptoms consisted of fevers, coughs, and shortness of breath. Around half the people infected died.

Thus far, all these instances have been connected to six countries in, or close to, the Arabian Peninsula. There have been no cases of the virus identified in the United States, but as the Saudia Arabia Sars-like Virus strikes again, questions are raised as to whether it will reach the US.

The virus has been known to spread from ill people to others through close contact. However, the virus has not shown to spread in a sustained way in communities. The condition continues to grow, evidently as a 73-year old man has now died from the virus, causing the death toll to amount to 57 of those infected.

The Health Ministry in Saudi Arabia has confirmed that the man died in the Capital’s hospital on Thursday. He was one in five of the recently detected cases. So far, there have been a total of 141 people that have been infected since September last year. Three of the people who have been recently infected, are people who work within Saudi Arabia’s health services.

The CDC recommends that any US travelers visiting countries in, or close to, the Arabian Peninsula should pay attention to their health during and following their trip. If they develop a fever, or symptoms of lower respiratory illness like a cough or shortness of breath within 14 days after their travels, they have been urged to visit a doctor immediately, and inform them about their recent destination.

The Saudi Arabia SARS-like Virus strikes again, but will it reach the US? Further investigations are taking place in an attempt to produce more answers about the virus. However, as the MERS virus kills yet another person, it is imperative that researchers act quickly.

By Melissa McDonald