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MERS-CoV - Lethal new disease stalking humanity, may be highly contagious

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 1st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A new disease is stalking humanity and it has a chilling attributes, enough so the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control are warning the public to be on alert. Both the WHO and CDC are issuing daily updates about MERS-CoV, a new disease with a mortality rate that surpasses fifty-percent. The disease can easily spread from person-to-person.

ATLANTA, GA (Catholic Online) - So far there are no unusual warnings or precautions advised, but officials are watching the situation intently and issuing daily updates. So far, the new disease, labeled, MERS-CoV, has infected at least 50 people and claimed 30 lives.

The sixty percent mortality rate is more alarming when understood that the MERS-CoV is easily spread from person-to-person.

Known officially as Middle East respiratory syndrome, the disease is a coronavirus, which is the same kind of virus that causes the common old. According to reports, it is spread just as easily and has been found in several countries including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Tunisia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. In Europe, cases have been reported in England, France, and Germany.

Doctors think it could be related to SARS, a deadly disease that spread globally, but has not been detected since 2004.

New cases are being identified daily, but so far, the number remains quite low.

MERS-CoV leads to symptoms that are similar to the common cold, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. However, victims may also die.

Many diseases with high mortality, such as Ebola for example, kill quickly and are easily observed, so the disease typically does not spread very far, especially in places where basic medical procedures are followed to stop it. Other diseases can spread much more easily, such as the common cold, but they have low mortality rates or are largely benign.

It is rare that a disease emerges with both high lethality and ease of infection. Doctors are concerned that MERS-CoV could be such a disease. The world will soon see if cases continue to report. One fear is that many of the sick will confuse their symptoms with the common old and not seek treatment, meanwhile spreading the deadly virus to others. In such a case, a spike in incidents should occur. So far, this has not been observed.

That lack of observation suggest the disease may not be as lethal as feared, or it may be confined to a small number of victims.

For now, people who have traveled recently to the Middle East, where the virus is suspected to have originated, are encouraged to inform healthcare providers if they show signs of illness.

Medical facilities are also being encouraged to obtain samples and forward them to the CDC if any suspicious deaths occur that could be related to MERS-CoV.

Travelers are asked to carry and use hand sanitizer, to avoid contact with sick persons, and to follow common sense procedures. Vaccines should be up to date prior to any travel.

If persons are sick, they are advised to cover their coughs and sneezes, to use disposable tissues, and to avoid contact with others. Sick persons should contact their doctor if their symptoms worsen or are prolonged beyond those normally associated with the common cold.

Doctors are particularly warned to be on watch for anyone who develops acute lower respiratory illness within 10 days of travel from the Middle East.

There are no official warnings or restrictions in place at this time, but authorities are keeping a close watch on the situation. Daily updates are being issued through both the CDC and WHO websites.

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