World Health Organisation(WHO) on Thursday announced the spread of the deadly MERS virus which has been contracted by three women in Saudi Arabia, the most widely hit by the enigmatic disease.
The newly discovered virus has worried the authorities across the world about its massive potential effects. Even Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organisation is quite worried about the effects of the virus and called it a threat to the entire world” in a speech given in Geneva Switzerland.
The new virus is called the MERs or MERs-CoV which refers to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus as it has ties to the Middle East. The tracking of the virus was started by WHO since Sept 2012 and currently there are 49 confirmed cases tested by laboratory analysis.
Three new cases of MERs:
The first new case confirmed with MERs was that of a 67 year old woman from Riyadh. This woman was diagnosed with MERs even though she did not come in contact with another person effected with the disease or had come in contact with animals.
The other 2 cases diagnosed with MERs were those of health workers who had been exposed to other MERs patients. According to the WHO, 46 out off a total of 94 patients diagnosed with MERs have died since Sept 2012.
The spread of the deadly virus has raised concerns to restrict visas for the hajj pilgrimage in October as millions of Muslims assemble together at holy sites of Mecca and Medina by Saudi Arabia.
A vaccine for MERs is not available yet and the scientists are struggling to still understand and get a cure for this disease which has a fatality rate of nearly 51%.
MERS itself is related to the common cold and SARS virus which erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.MERS acts like the common cold and attacks the respiratory system, but with much more severe symptoms.
MERs has effected mostly older men with previous health conditions. Experts and the current medical authorities are still unaware of the particulars of the deadly virus.
The majority of cases thus far have been in older men with previous health conditions, but knowledge of a less mild form in other types of patients and its effects is unknown at this time. It is not known exactly how humans contract the virus.
The previous assumption of the waiting period of 1-9 days was shorter than the actual waiting period of 12 days. Thus a longer quarantine is required to cure the virus and to ensure that a previously infected person is not released into the society.
This virus is very similar to the previously spread SARS virus which erupted from animals to humans and the symptoms are similar to the former’s flu like symptoms. However MERs also causes kidney failure.
Chan’s remarks about the virus were mainly due to the lack of knowledge, she said, “We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat. We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these questions, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond.”