Saudi announces 3 new MERS deaths, toll hits 105

Saudi health authorities announced Tuesday three new deaths from the MERS coronavirus, as a group of experts met to discuss means of preventing the spread of the disease.

Three men—aged 56, 61, and 79—died of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in Riyadh, bringing to 105 the total deaths since the disease appeared in the kingdom in September 2012, the said.

At the same time, the ministry said six new infections have raised the total number of cases diagnosed to 345, representing the bulk of infections registered globally.

Meanwhile, acting health minister Adel Fakieh said a group of Western experts and representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO) have met for two days in Riyadh to discuss "a series of preventive measures... to contain the spread" of MERS.

"These measures will be announced in the coming days," Fakieh told reporters, without elaborating.

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

Last week, the WHO announced its readiness to send international experts to Saudi Arabia to investigate "any evolving risk" associated with the transmission pattern 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 severe respiratory disease with a mortality rate of more than 40 percent that experts are still struggling to understand.

But scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the United States have identified natural human antibodies—proteins made by the immune system that recognise foreign viruses and bacteria—against the virus that causes MERS.

In laboratory studies reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a scientific journal, researchers found that these "neutralising" antibodies prevented a key part of the virus, known as MERS CoV, from attaching to protein receptors that allow the virus to infect human cells.

Further experiments are under way that could lead to development of antibody preventives and treatments for MERS, the scientists say.

Related Stories

Saudi MERS death toll now 87

date Apr 25, 2014

Saudi Arabia announced Friday two more deaths from the MERS coronavirus, taking the country's toll to 87, a day after King Abdullah tried to reassure a worried public.

Two expats die of MERS in Saudi commercial hub

date Apr 20, 2014

Two foreigners died of MERS in the Saudi city of Jeddah, the health ministry said Saturday, as fears rise over the spreading respiratory virus in the kingdom's commercial hub.

MERS death toll reaches 61 in Saudi

date Feb 23, 2014

Saudi health authorities announced on Sunday the death of an elderly woman from the MERS coronavirus, bringing the death toll from the respiratory disease in the kingdom to 61.

Recommended for you

'Ebola will return', veteran scientist warns

date 8 hours ago

Congolese expert Jean-Jacques Muyembe may be little known to the public, but he has been one of the world's top Ebola investigators since the first epidemic erupted in central Africa in 1976.

Score IDs patients with upper extremity DVT at low risk

date 23 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For patients with upper-extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT), six easily available factors can be used to create a score that identifies those at low risk of adverse events during the first ...

Combined drug treatment combats kidney disease

date May 29, 2015

A recent discovery by drug researchers whereby coupling specific cell membrane receptors has altered kidney cell function has triggered a re-think of how to treat chronic kidney disease (CKD) more effectively.

Active substance targeting dreaded hospital germs

date May 29, 2015

In the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), scientists have conducted clinical studies on an active substance against the dreaded hospital pathogen Staphylococcus aureus: a highly effective protein from bacteriophages ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.