MERS Spreads across Middle East


The Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, or simply MERS, is continuing to spread across countries in the region. On Sunday, December 1, the Health Authority in Abu Dhabi announced that an eight-year-old Jordanian boy has been diagnosed with the disease and hospitalized immediately.

According to a report by the news agency Wam, the boy was found to suffer from MERS during medical examination of his entire family required after his father’s diagnose of the same virus. Apparently, the child didn’t feel sick at first, but after he was admitted to hospital mild symptoms appeared. The Health Authority in Abu Dhabi also said that it is coordinating with the UAE Ministry of Health, as well as other authorities in working for that case. Precautionary measures have also been taken as specified by the World Health Organization. According to latest data by the WHO, the total number of human infections since the first detection of MERS last year, has reached 160. This includes 68 deaths. However, this information is from Friday, November 29, so it couldn’t include the Jordanian boy currently hospitalized in Abu Dhabi.

The MERS coronavirus which first appeared in September 2012 is closely related to the SARS which infected around 8000 people a decade ago, as well as to the virus causing common cold. MERS was announced to be far more deadly than those two, killing at the beginning half of all patients. It is still unclear how exactly it is spread among humans or animals and scientists are still not sure of its origin. However, last week, a huge progress has been accomplished. The WHO announced that Qatar authorities conducted an investigation which led to the conclusion that camels may be the source of the disease. The Public Health Department and the Department of Animal Resources in Qatar in collaboration with international team of experts found the presence of MERS coronavirus in three camels in a herd of 14 domesticated animals in a barn. According to the investigation two people who had direct contact with the herd were infected with MERS, which could mean that the camels contracted the disease.

The World Health Organization is now advising people, especially the elderly and those with chronic diseases to avoid close contact with animals. General food hygiene rules should be practiced by everyone visiting farms, barns and other places with animals to reduce the risk of infection.


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