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Middle Eastern virus, MERS 'threat to the entire world'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 30th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A new SARS-like virus, dubbed MERS, according to the World Health Organizations, threatens the entire world. To date, the disease has killed 24 people, more than half of those diagnosed.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - During a speech in Geneva, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, described the MERS virus as a "threat to the entire world."

Speaking at the global health monitor's annual conference, Dr. Margaret Chan did not mince words about the SARS-like novel coronavirus that researchers call MERS.

"Looking at the overall global situation, my greatest concern right now is the novel coronavirus. We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat. Any new disease that is emerging faster than our understanding is never under control," Dr Chan said.

"These are alarm bells and we must respond. The novel coronavirus is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself. The novel coronavirus is a threat to the entire world."

Health officials in France announced the death of a 65-year-old man who had apparently contracted the MERS virus after traveling to Dubai.

The WHO says that 24 of 44 confirmed MERS cases have ended in death.

In a move that might complicate finding a vaccine, Dutch scientists have taken the unusual step of patenting the killer virus.

Albert Osterhaus and Ron Fouchier, with the Erasmus Medical Center received a sample of the virus from a Saudi doctor who was stumped by the first known case. The virologists then patented it, infuriating the World Health Organization and Saudi officials, who say that doing so is impeding the search for treatment.

While the coronavirus causes the common cold, the novel conoavirus, or MERS, has killed more than half of those who have been diagnosed with it.

 "Making deals between scientists because they want to take out IP and be the first to publish in scientific journals, we cannot allow that. No intellectual property should stand in the way of you protecting your people," Chan said during her speech.

The Dutch researchers deny that they had kept the virus from anyone. "We're still sharing this virus with everyone who wants to do public health research," Osterhaus told reporters.

Cases of MERS so far been confirmed in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

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