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Health organization holds emergency secret meeting on MERS

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/14/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (

Outbreak in Saudi Arabia deemed to be a 'public health emergency of international concern'

The spread of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS has gained strength in recent weeks. Largely confined to Saudi Arabia, a second case was reported in the United States recently. In response, health and infectious disease experts met at the World Health Organization this week to discuss whether the deadly virus, extant since 2012 now constitutes a "public health emergency of international concern."

Scientists have linked the human cases of the virus to camels. Saudi authorities issued a warning that anyone working with camels or handling camel products should take extra precautions by wearing masks and gloves.

Scientists have linked the human cases of the virus to camels. Saudi authorities issued a warning that anyone working with camels or handling camel products should take extra precautions by wearing masks and gloves.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (
5/14/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: MERS, camels, World Health Organization, emergency

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - MERS has been reported in more than 500 patients in Saudi Arabia alone. It has already spread throughout the region in sporadic cases and into Europe, Asia and the United States. MRS kills about 30 percent of those infected.

Meeting at the United Nations health agency's Geneva headquarters, experts are weighing in on whether a recent surge in detected cases in Saudi Arabia, together with the wider international constitutes an international emergency.

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An emergency is defined by global health regulators as an extraordinary event that poses a risk to other WHO member states through the international spread of the disease which may require a coordinated, international response.

The WHO earlier said in a statement this week that discussions among experts were continuing later than planned. WHO's Assistant Director General for Health Security, Keiji Fukuda will hold a news conference shortly to announce the conclusions of the meeting.

MERS causes coughing, fever and sometimes fatal pneumonia. MERS has been identified as a coronavirus from the same family as SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed around 800 people worldwide after first appearing in China in 2002.

Scientists have linked the human cases of the virus to camels. Saudi authorities issued a warning that anyone working with camels or handling camel products should take extra precautions by wearing masks and gloves.

The WHO's MERS emergency committee is the second to be set up under WHO rules that came into force in 2007. The previous emergency committee was set up to respond to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

U.S. officials said two health workers at a hospital in Orlando, Florida, who were exposed to a patient with MERS had begun showing flu-like symptoms, and one had been hospitalized.


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