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

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization 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.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid