'SARS-Like' Virus May Be Deadlier Than SARS

Virus has killed 38 of its 64 victims worldwide

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 20, 2013 11:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – MERS-CoV is often referred to as a "SARS-like" virus, but maybe someday it'll be the other way around. MERS has an "extremely high" fatality rate, seemingly much higher than SARS, a team of infectious disease specialists said in a report yesterday. In April, Saudi hospitals saw 65% of their MERS patients—that's 15 out of 23—die, the Washington Post reports. Out of 64 cases worldwide, 38 have died, or about 59%.

SARS killed 800 of the 8,000 people who caught it before it was stopped in 2003. Of course, there's no test yet for MERS, so there may be cases that haven't been identified. And one of the researchers explains that, as with SARS, the death rate could drop as doctors diagnose patients with less severe cases. So far, the disease mostly seems to be jumping from hospital to hospital, transferred by unwitting patients, NBC News reports. "People would go from one [health care facility] to another, and it would not be recognized," says the researcher.

This electron microscope image from the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows a novel coronavirus particle, also known as the MERS virus, center.   (AP Photo/NIAID - RML)
This electron microscope image from the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows novel coronavirus particles, aka the MERS virus, colorized in yellow.   (AP Photo/NIAID - RML)
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