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Entries in Saudi Arabia (4)

Sunday
Jul142013

Saudi Arabian Health Officials Warn Pilgrims of MERS Coronavirus

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MECCA, Saudi Arabia) -- Health officials in Saudi Arabia have issued a warning to pilgrims planning on visiting the country’s holy sites about the risk of spreading Middle East respiratory-syndrome coronavirus, BBC News reports.

MERS coronavirus has already killed 38 people in Saudi Arabia, and officials are asking visiting pilgrims to wear masks in crowded places to avoid spreading it further.

Health officials are also asking the elderly and people with chronic diseases to postpone their pilgrimages, ideally until the outbreak is over. Pilgrims are encouraged to take proper steps to maintain good personal hygiene, and to sneeze or cough into a tissue instead of their hands or into the air.

Millions of Muslim pilgrims come to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj each year.

MERS coronavirus first emerged in the Arabian Peninsula in September 2012. There have been 80 cases of infection, according to the World Health Organization, and 44 confirmed deaths worldwide.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jun022013

MERS Coronavirus Kills Three More in Saudi Arabia

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) -- Saudi health officials say three more people have died from the MERS coronavirus, bringing the death toll in Saudi Arabia to 24. The country has seen the highest number of MERS cases since the outbreak started last year, with 38 known infections.

Infections have also emerged in Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy. All of the cases have ties to the Middle East, according to the World Health Organization.

Until recently, MERS-CoV was known widely as the “SARS-like virus” because of its semblance to the deadly SARS virus, which a decade ago sickened more than 8,000 people and killed 774. But experts caution that while both viruses can cause pneumonia and organ failure, MERS-CoV appears to spread less readily than SARS so far.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May302013

SARS-Like Virus Continues to Spread Through Middle East

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) -- A new virus spreading through the Middle East has claimed three more lives, according to Saudi health officials, bringing the death toll to 30.

At least 50 people have been sickened by the virus, newly-dubbed MERS-CoV for “Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus.” The majority of cases have clustered in Saudi Arabia. But infections have also emerged in Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

All of the cases have ties to the Middle East, according to the World Health Organization.

A Frenchman, who became ill after traveling to Dubai, died earlier this week roughly one month after being hospitalized with respiratory symptoms. His roommate at the hospital also contracted the virus, reaffirming suspicions that MERS-CoV can be passed from person-to-person.

The virus has also spread through a health care facility Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia, where at least 22 patients have been sickened and 10 have died. In light of such cases, doctors on Wednesday recommended quarantining patients for at least 12 days.

Until recently, MERS-CoV was known widely as the “SARS-like virus” because of its semblance to the deadly SARS virus, which a decade ago sickened more than 8,000 people and killed 774. But experts caution that while both viruses can cause pneumonia and organ failure, MERS-CoV appears to spread less readily than SARS so far.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep272012

Saudi Health Officials Brace for Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Saudi Arabian health officials are bracing for the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca expected to draw more than two million Muslims from around the world.

This year's pilgrimage, set to begin on Oct. 24, will come one month after the discovery of a SARS-like virus linked to the death of a Saudi man earlier this year.  Another man, who is from Qatar, but had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, is in critical condition with the same infection.

The Saudi Ministry of Health is "keeping a close eye on all developments" and urging all those who wish to participate in the pilgrimage -- the fifth pillar of Islam -- to keep their hands clean and wear masks in crowded places, according to its website.

"We pray for Allah to protect our beloved country from all such harms and diseases," the website says.

The new virus belongs to a family called coronaviruses, which are typically spread by coughs and sneezes.  Coronaviruses include the common cold as well as SARS, which swiftly spread from Asia to America and Europe a decade ago, killing nearly 800 of the more than 8,000 people it infected.

"The Hajj brings people from all over world to one small place," said Dr. William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  "People can carry infections with them, and we have to be aware of that."

People participating in the pilgrimage are required to be vaccinated against yellow fever, meningitis and polio, if they come from polio-endemic countries.  The Ministry of Health also recommends the seasonal influenza vaccine.

"Vaccinations are important; identifying people who are ill and isolating them is equally important," said Schaffner.  "You need an environment where someone who's ill gets prompt medical attention, and the illness is called into health authorities to make sure it's an individual event and not the beginning of an outbreak."

The World Health Organization is "working closely with Saudi Arabia, as in previous years, to support the country's health measures for all visitors participating in the [Hajj] pilgrimage to Mecca next month," according to a WHO statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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