WHO To Health Workers: Be On Alert For Viruses With Pandemic Potential

Prior to Survival And Prosperity’s two-week hiatus, I’d been tracking and blogging about viruses that have pandemic potential. This included the H7N9 bird flu virus in China and the novel coronavirus (nCoV) in the Middle East. While compiling material to blog about I stumbled on the following yesterday on the FOX News website. From Reuters:

The World Health Organization on Monday urged health workers around the world to be on the alert for symptoms of the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS), which has the potential to circle the globe and cause a pandemic.

The United Nations agency, which issued new, long-awaited guidance to countries on influenza pandemics, said the world was also in the same “alert phase” for two human strains of bird flu – H5N1, which emerged a decade ago, and H7N9, first detected in China in March.

So the novel coronavirus in the Middle East is now being called MERS.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published information about the virus on their website (they refer to it as MERS-CoV). I found the most important to be:

Q: What are the symptoms of MERS?
A: Most people who got infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of them died. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness.

Q: Does MERS-CoV spread from person to person?
A: MERS-CoV has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact. Transmission from infected patients to healthcare personnel has also been observed. Clusters of cases in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UK, France, Tunisia, and Italy are being investigated.

Q: Is CDC concerned?
A: Yes, CDC is concerned about MERS-CoV. The virus has caused severe illness in most infected people, and about half of them have died. Also, the virus spreads from person to person and has spread between countries. CDC recognizes the potential for the virus to spread further and cause more cases and clusters globally, including in the United States.

Q: Has anyone in the United States gotten infected?
A: So far, there are no reports of anyone in the United States getting infected with MERS-CoV.

Hopefully, it stays that way, as there is no vaccine available to fight MERS-CoV.

Of the 55 recorded cases of MERS-CoV, 31 of those infected with the virus have died.

More information about MERS-CoV can be found on the CDC website here.

As for H7N9, yesterday China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission reported there are only 14 patients from the outbreak still in hospitals (via The Japan Times). Warmer weather following the end of winter in China is thought to have helped contain the outbreak.

Of the 131 recorded cases of H7N9, 39 of those infected with the virus have died.

More information about H7N9 can be found on the CDC website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“WHO: MERS coronavirus has potential to cause pandemic.” Reuters. 10 June 2013. (http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/10/who-mers-coronavirus-has-potential-to-cause-pandemic/). 11 June 2013.

“China H7N9 patients dwindle to 14: report.” The Japan Times. 10 June 2013. (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/06/11/asia-pacific/china-h7n9-patients-dwindle-to-14-report/#.Ubd0c9g4yeY). 11 June 2013.

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Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 Asia, Emergencies, Europe, Health, Middle East

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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