Middle East Sees Spike in Cases of Lethal Virus

92 have died since 2012
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2014 11:14 AM CDT
Middle East Sees Spike in Cases of Lethal Virus
This image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows a novel coronavirus particle, also known as the MERS virus.   (AP Photo/NIAID - RML)

A respiratory virus identified in 2012 has since claimed 92 lives—and recent days have seen cases soar. Last week, Saudi Arabia reported 15 new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome within four days; this weekend, the United Arab Emirates announced that paramedics were the victims in six additional cases. One of the health workers died. Yesterday, Yemen announced its first case, Reuters reports. There have been some 228 cases in all, the Wall Street Journal reports, with last week seeing the highest numbers so far. "I'm not pretty sure that they are actually seeing how big this thing is," says a doctor at a major Saudi hospital.

"What I really wish for is to shut the whole hospital down" while the disease is surging, she adds. Patients have steered clear of the place, where one health worker has died. Another Saudi Arabian health worker is in intensive care, and other workers have tested positive for the disease without symptoms. "As far as we know, MERS-CoV does not spread easily from person-to-person, so these clusters (among health workers) suggest a breakdown in infection prevention and control," says an epidemiologist. Despite the spike, Saudi Arabian officials say appropriate measures are being taken to limit the disease's spread. (More Middle East stories.)

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