News / Health

WHO: Upsurge in MERS Corona Virus Due to Warmer Weather

FILE - Undated electron microscope image of novel coronavirus particles, also known as the MERS virus, colorized in yellow.
FILE - Undated electron microscope image of novel coronavirus particles, also known as the MERS virus, colorized in yellow.
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization (WHO) says it believes the recent spike in cases of  Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS Corona virus is probably due to a seasonal increase of the disease rather than to any changes in the behavior of the virus.

WHO says similar upsurges have occurred around the same time in the past two years.  

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl says the increase in cases is most likely due to the warmer weather in the Arabian Peninsula and to outbreaks of the disease in two or three hospitals in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

He says health officials do not know how the virus is transmitted from person to person.  But it is clear, he says, the disease does not spread with the same ease that Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, did.
Countries reporting new MERS cases, 2014.
Countries reporting new MERS cases, 2014.

“We do not think it does transmit very efficiently," said Hartl. "It certainly is not anything like SARS or like diseases like influenza…There is no way we can predict the future.  But, for us, at the moment, certainly this virus MERS does not have the ability to infect in the same way that SARS did.  So, that is a good sign.”   

Hartl says SARS is highly contagious.  The disease broke out in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the early 2000s.  Over a six-month period, at the height of the epidemic, nearly 8,100 cases and 774 deaths were reported.  

By comparison, Hartl notes WHO has confirmed 261 cases of MERS corona virus in two years.  But, the downside is that 93 people have died, which is a much higher fatality rate than that of SARS.  

The MERS corona virus is shrouded in mystery.  Health officials know that camels are one of the hosts of the virus, but they believe the disease may also stem from other sources.  They also do not know why some humans get infected and others do not.  

The virus made its first appearance in Egypt last week.  Cases also have been confirmed in Greece, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.  But WHO spokesman Hartl says patients in those countries acquired the disease while they were in Saudi Arabia.  He says the virus remains largely contained in the Middle East.

He says the virus has not changed its character.  Thirty viruses have been tested, he says, and none have mutated.   

“These viruses do not transmit from human to human because when they transmit from human to human, small changes in the genome of the virus will occur," said Hartl. "However, in this case, we believe that this means that almost all the introductions still are coming from the environment somehow.” 

Hartl says health officials are faced with the big challenge of trying to figure out how the virus passes from its natural host or reservoir to humans.  

The World Health Organization says in the absence of any drugs to treat the disease, the best way people can protect themselves from falling ill is to practice good general hygiene.  WHO says people should wash their hands frequently and keep their distance from people who show signs of MERS.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jay from: Australia
May 04, 2014 12:36 PM
There is cases here but it is being kept secret. Doctors won't test for the virus. Half of the people have systoms.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs