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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid