Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MERS Epidemic Claims More Lives in Saudi Kingdom

Most MERS infections have originated in Saudi Arabia
The grim death count from the MERS epidemic has risen again, according to the World Health Organization. WHO now puts the total MERS infections worldwide at 160, including 68 deaths.

Approximately 133 of the laboratory confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome have originated in the Saudi Kingdom. 57 of those have died.

Researchers agree that most cases are going unreported. A recent study estimated 62% of symptomatic cases are undetected and actual infection numbers may be closer to a thousand.

Saudi Arabia has reported three more victims of the virus, two of which have passed away. Both fatalities are from the Riyadh area and suffered from chronic medical problems.

A 73 year old woman became ill with the virus on November 12 and was hospitalized on the 14th. On November 9, a 37 year old man began to show symptoms and he was admitted to the hospital on the 13th. Both suffered from underlying medical conditions and both died on November 18.

A 65 year old man is also sick with MERS, according to Saudi health officials. He is from the Jawf region and has pre-existing medical conditions. He became ill on November 4 and was hospitalized on the 14th.

None of the latest cases reported contact with animals or previously diagnosed MERS patients. These infections, whose source cannot be identified, are called 'sporadic' cases.

A recent report by WHO raised concern about the sharp increase in sporadic infections. In September of this year, they represented about a quarter of new infections. According to the report released on November 22, sporadic cases now account for more than two thirds of new MERS infections.

Researchers concluded that the virus is being spread by both humans and through an 'unknown reservoir' which continues to infect humans. An animal connection is suspected, but most cases mirror these most recent ones: the victims had no contact with animals.

In other MERS news, Innovo Pharmaceuticals have announced success in pre-trials on a vaccine for the MERS virus. They report 'robust and durable immune responses' in tests of the drug on mice.

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