Friday, October 4, 2013

WHO Confirms Six More MERS Infections

MERS Corona Virus
The World Health Organization confirmed six more MERS infections in Saudi Arabia, three had been previously reported and three are new cases. The latest victims are from Riyadh and range in age from 14 to 79 years old.

One of the new cases has mild symptoms and the others are in the hospital. Three were in contact with confirmed cases, two have no known contacts with other victims or animals and no information has been released on the source of infection in one.

These latest cases brings the total of WHO confirmed cases to 136 including 58 fatalities. They advise vigilance by medical workers, the elderly or chronically ill postpone the Hajj, masks be worn by Hajj pilgrims in crowded events and basic good hygiene practices.

A meeting by the WHO Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations  and concluded "
"...the conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) have not at present been met... WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions."
Saudi health officials are not overly concerned about the millions of Hajj pilgrims due to arrive in Saudi Arabia this month. They point to the recent Umrah pilgrimage to the Saudi Kingdom which did not result in widespread infections from returning visitors.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health in the US are currently operating on minimal staff due to the US Government Shutdown. This CDC statement reads:
"CDC will continue minimal support to protect the health and well-being of US citizens here and abroad through a significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations, processing of laboratory samples, and maintaining the agency’s 24/7 emergency operations center."

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