Saturday, May 3, 2014

Travel warning: Saudi Arabia

Please exercise caution while visiting the land of all-MERSi-full camels and people who act all-too-familiar with the camels.This is just like SARS which came from close proximity of humans to pig/birds in China.

Actually there are no known cures for MERS.....yet, so a complete travel ban is warranted. As if one needed an excuse for not visiting Saudi Arabia.

Saudi health authorities announced on Saturday two new deaths from the MERS coronavirus, raising to 109 the number of fatalities since the disease appeared in the kingdom in September 2012. 

A 25-year-old man has died in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and a woman of 69, who suffered from tuberculosis and anaemia, died in Mecca, also western Saudi Arabia, the health ministry said. At the same time, 35 new cases of the severe respiratory disease have been recorded, raising the number of sufferers in the Gulf state over the past two years to 396, the world's highest tally. 

Yesterday, US health officials said the first case of MERS has been confirmed in the United States. The person infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a health care provider who had travelled to Riyadh for work, they said. 

And last week, Egypt recorded its first infection after a person who arrived from Saudi Arabia tested positive. 

Public concern in Saudi Arabia over the spread of MERS has mounted after the resignation of at least four doctors at Jeddah's King Fahd Hospital who refused to treat patients for fear of infection. 

Some research has suggested that camels are a likely source of the virus. 

MERS is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the Sars virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died. There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for MERS, a disease with a mortality rate of more than 40 per cent that experts are still struggling to understand.
Along a stretch of rust-belt suburbia in Indiana, the Community Hospital in Munster now claims the dubious distinction of being the first U.S. facility to admit a patient with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

U.S. state and federal health officials confirmed the first American case of the virus on Friday. The patient, a male healthcare worker, had travelled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and began exhibiting symptoms upon his return to the United States, they said.

Separately, Saudi officials on Saturday said the rate of infections was on the rise in the country, where MERS was first discovered in 2012. The total number of cases in the kingdom is 396, of whom more than a quarter have died.

The MERS patient had traveled via a British Airways flight on April 24 from Riyadh to London, changing planes at Heathrow airport to fly to Chicago. From there, he boarded a bus to Indiana. Munster, which is close to Indiana's border with Illinois, is about a 45-minute drive from downtown Chicago.

Health officials in Britain were contacting any passengers who may have sat next to the patient. U.S. health authorities stressed the case represents a very low risk to the public.

But concerns remain, given how little is know about the way MERS is spread, other than it can be transmitted between people who are in close contact. That has made healthcare workers particularly susceptible to falling ill with the MERS virus, for which there is no treatment.

But citing "an abundance of caution," Indiana health officials urged people who had visited the hospital's Emergency Department between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on April 28, the night the MERS patient was admitted, to watch for symptoms such as cough, fever and shortness of breath.