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Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca could increase the risk of spreading virus

Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca could increase the risk of spreading virus | MERS-CoV | Scoop.it

(CNSNews.com) – As Saudi and U.N. health authorities report new infections from a troubling new respiratory disease, there are concerns that the approaching Hajj – the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca – could increase the risk of spreading the virus as pilgrims return to their home countries.

Meanwhile the U.S. government, in a notice published in the Federal Register Wednesday, declared that the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV, or simply MERS) could potentially “affect national security or the health and security of United States citizens living abroad.”

Saudi Arabia is currently the undisputed center of the scare.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the majority of the 55 confirmed MERS cases – 40 infections, 24 deaths – have occurred in the kingdom, while two deaths each have been reported in Britain and Jordan and one death each in France and the United Arab Emirates. (The fatalities in Europe were linked to visits to the Middle East.) 

Infections also have been reported in Qatar, Tunisia and Italy.

The notice published in the Federal Register Wednesday said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has determined that “there is a significant potential for a public health emergency that has a significant potential to affect national security or the health and security of United States citizens living abroad.”

That determination in turn allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to bypass standard processes and fast-track approval for products or drugs in relation to MERS, on the basis of an “emergency use application” (EUA).

The FDA may under the prescribed circumstances issue an EUA “authorizing (1) the emergency use of an unapproved drug, an unapproved or uncleared device, or an unlicensed biological product; or (2) an unapproved use of an approved drug, approved or cleared device, or licensed biological product,” the notice says.

Saudi Arabia says more than two million Muslims – including roughly 20,000 from the United States – visit Mecca for the Hajj, which brings large numbers of people into close proximity in a confined geographical area over a five-day period. This year’s pilgrimage falls in mid-October.

As of Wednesday, the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) said it was not advising any “special screening at points of entry” as a result of the outbreak, “nor does it currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.”

Updated guidelines for Hajj pilgrims, issued by the Saudi Embassy in Washington, make no mention of MERS in a section on health issues and vaccination requirements. Vaccinations that are required for adults include those for meningitis, seasonal flu, and the H1N1 flu virus.

The guidelines do include an unspecific warning: “Health experts advise the following groups to postpone their plans for Hajj and Umrah this year for their own safety: The elderly, the terminally ill, pregnant women, and children.” (The Umrah is a secondary type of pilgrimage to Mecca, one that can be taken any time of the year.)

In its health guidelines related to MERS, the Saudi health ministry has one reference to the pilgrimage, advising the wearing of face masks “in the overcrowded places during Hajj or Umrah.”

A Malaysian study published in the Journal of Travel Medicine in 2010 found that more than 60 percent of Malaysian pilgrims developed respiratory systems, including coughs, sore throats and fever, during the 2007 Hajj.

A French study, published in the same journal and examining French pilgrims at the 2009 Hajj, found that although almost 80 percent reported having worn face masks, their use “did not significantly reduce respiratory symptoms.”

The most recent fatality reported to WHO by Saudi health authorities is that of a 14 year-old girl. It was noted that she is not from an area in the east of the kingdom called Al-Ahsa, where a cluster of cases at one hospital since April accounted for 22 infections and 10 deaths.

According to the CDC, there have been no reports of anyone in the U.S. becoming infected with the virus, whose symptoms can include cause coughing, fever and pneumonia.

‘Alarming’

Much about the virus is unknown, including its origin (bats are a suspected host), how infections are occurring, the conditions under which it could spread from one person to another, and chances of mutation into a more easily-transmissible form.

Experts say it is distinct from, but similar to, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which was blamed for 774 deaths between late 2002 and mid-2003, more than 80 percent of them in mainland China and Hong Kong.

“Although the number of cases documented is limited, the morbidity and mortality of the infection is alarming, as is its uncanny resemblance – at least in its clinical features – to SARS,” the Coronavirus Study Group (CSG) of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses said in a report in May, at a time when the number of confirmed MERS infections stood at 30.

“While a small minority of the known cases developed mild disease, most patients presented with a severe acute respiratory condition requiring hospitalization; the mortality rate is approximately 60 percent,” the CSG said. (The mortality rate currently is about 55 percent).

While WHO has not issued travel or screening advisories, it is encouraging vigilance, saying travelers returning from the Middle East who develop severe acute respiratory infections should be tested for MERS.

WHO is also advising clinicians that in patients whose immunity is compromised, MERS infection should be considered, even in cases of atypical symptoms, such as diarrhea.

 

 

CNSNews.com is not funded by the government like NPR. CNSNews.com is not funded by the government like PBS.  


Via Nationalist Media Network
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Suspected MERS (or Coronavirus)) case quarantined -- Min. Sabeeh - Kuwait News Agency

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10 new cases of Mers coronavirus in Saudi Arabia - The National

10 new cases of Mers coronavirus in Saudi Arabia - The National | MERS-CoV | Scoop.it
Independent Online 10 new cases of Mers coronavirus in Saudi Arabia The National RIYADH // Saudi Arabia reported 10 confirmed new cases of a deadly respiratory disease during Islam's fasting month of Ramadan, and subsequent Eid Al Fitr holiday,...
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The Guardian view on Ebola and the need for new drugs

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Editorial: Viral disease has been disrupting continents and civilisations for centuries. Time for a quicker response
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New Case Of Human Infection With MERS-CoV Reported In Iran: WHO - RTT News

New Case Of Human Infection With MERS-CoV Reported In Iran: WHO - RTT News | MERS-CoV | Scoop.it
New Case Of Human Infection With MERS-CoV Reported In Iran: WHO RTT News The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday that the National IHR Focal Point of Iran has informed it of an additional laboratory-confirmed case of human...
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Two New Cases Of MERS CoV Infection Reported In UAE - RTT News

Two New Cases Of MERS CoV Infection Reported In UAE - RTT News | MERS-CoV | Scoop.it
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The deadly Novel Coronavirus (NCoV) strain, recently renamed MERS-CoV, reflects the fact that most of the reported cases are from that region, mainly Saudi Arabia.
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Seven New Cases Of MERS CoV Infection Reported In Saudi Arabia - RTT News

Seven New Cases Of MERS CoV Infection Reported In Saudi Arabia - RTT News | MERS-CoV | Scoop.it
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MERS virus won't stop Filipino Muslims from Mecca pilgrimage - Inquirer.net

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New MERS Cases in Abu Dhabi - Dubai Chronicle

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New coronavirus case discovered - Saudi Gazette

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JEDDAH — The Ministry of Health has announced one more coronavirus case in Jeddah. The ministry said the patient is a 52-year-old expatriate who was admitted to a government hospital in Jeddah.
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Coronavirus on the wane, says Saudi health minister - Trend.Az

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Instances of coronavirus infection (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) are receding but precautionary measures will remain in place, according to acting Health Minister Adel Fakeih.
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Mers: Terror in Saudi hospitals helped spread of coronavirus - gulfnews.com

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Kerman Iran MERS Clusters Linked To Umrah KSA Pilgrims

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Mers: Terror in Saudi hospitals helped spread of coronavirus

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Doctors and nurses refused to treat the sick or stopped coming to work altogether (#Mers: How terror in #Saudi hospitals helped spread of virus, says report http://t.co/Xt0nlYowE5...
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Man dies from coronavirus in Saudi Arabia - www.worldbulletin.net

Man dies from coronavirus in Saudi Arabia - www.worldbulletin.net | MERS-CoV | Scoop.it
www.worldbulletin.net Man dies from coronavirus in Saudi Arabia www.worldbulletin.net Saudi Arabia has reported a new death from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), commonly known as coronavirus, on Sunday bringing the total number of...
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Expat doc dies after a 105-day battle with coronavirus - Saudi Gazette

Expat doc dies after a 105-day battle with coronavirus - Saudi Gazette | MERS-CoV | Scoop.it
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Iran - Woman, 67, confirmed coronavirus MERS death - FluTrackers

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Scientists Are Now Worried That MERS Could Be Airborne

Scientists Are Now Worried That MERS Could Be Airborne | MERS-CoV | Scoop.it
MERS has infected at least 850 people since it first emerged two years ago.

Saudi scientists have found gene fragments of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in air from a barn housing an infected camel and say this suggests the disease may be transmitted through the air.

MERS, a serious respiratory illness caused by a virus known as a coronavirus (CoV), has infected at least 850 people since it first emerged two years ago and killed at least 327 of them, according to latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The vast majority of human cases have been in Saudi Arabia, but isolated MERS cases have been reported across Europe and in Asia and the United States in people linked who have recently traveled in the Middle East.

Scientists are not sure of the origin of the virus, but several studies have linked it to camels and some experts think it is being passed to humans through close physical contact or through the consumption of camel meat or camel milk.

However, in this latest study, published in the online journal of the American Society for Microbiology mBio, scientists said the detection of the virus in air samples was concerning and needed to be followed up.

 


Via Ed Rybicki
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Ed Rybicki's curator insight, July 22, 11:01 AM

Remind me NOT to go into any camel barns in the near future....

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WHO | Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

On 3, 5, 6, 8 and 10 July 2014, the National IHR Focal Point for Saudi Arabia reported an additional 7 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and the death of a previously reported case.
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'Coronavirus still a threat' | DT News

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Saudi Arabia reports 5 more MERS cases, 1 more death

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Saudi Arabia, UAE report more MERS cases - CIDRAP

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WHO | Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

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(MERS-CoV) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - Waaheen Media Group

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WHO | Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

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World Health Organization says most MERS cases are preventable, virus ... - Newser

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