WHO to hold emergency talks on deadly MERS virus Tuesday

May 9, 2014

The World Health Organization said Friday it would hold an emergency meeting next week on the deadly MERS virus, amid concern over the rising number of cases in several countries.

The UN health agency will host the emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the worrying spread of the virus, which in less than two years has killed 126 people in Saudi Arabia alone, spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.

The WHO's emergency committee has already met four times to discuss the mysterious corona virus, which surfaced in mid-2012.

"The increase in the number of cases in different countries raises a number of questions," Jasarevic said, without giving further details of the aim of the new talks.

The WHO experts will brief reporters at the end of the teleconferenced meeting on Tuesday evening, he said.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the SARS that broke out in Asia in 2003, infecting 8,273 people and killing nearly 800 of them.

Like SARS, it appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering from a temperature, coughing and breathing difficulties.

But it differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure.

There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for MERS, a disease that kills more than 40 percent of those infected and that experts are still struggling to understand.

According to the most recent WHO figures, 496 MERS cases have been detected since September 2012.

The Saudi health ministry says 463 of them have been in the Gulf nation.

MERS cases have also been reported in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and even the United States, with most involving people who had travelled to Saudi Arabia or worked there, often as medical staff.

Explore further: Saudi MERS death toll rises to 126

Related Stories

Saudi MERS death toll rises to 126

May 9, 2014

Saudi Arabia's death toll from MERS has risen by five to 126 fatalities since the mystery respiratory virus first appeared in the kingdom in 2012, the health ministry said Friday.

Jordanian dies of MERS virus

May 6, 2014

A man has died in Jordan after being infected with the MERS virus, a media report said Tuesday, in the kingdom's second fatality from the disease this year and fourth since 2012.

Saudi MERS death toll reaches 115

May 5, 2014

Saudi health authorities announced on Monday that the death toll from the MERS coronavirus has reached 115 since the respiratory disease first appeared in the kingdom in 2012.

MERS death toll in Saudi reaches 111 (Update)

May 3, 2014

Saudi health authorities announced Saturday two new deaths from the MERS coronavirus, raising to 111 the number of fatalities since the disease appeared in the kingdom in September 2012.

Jordan records two new MERS infections

May 1, 2014

Two new infections from MERS coronavirus have been detected in Jordan, the health ministry said Thursday, one a Saudi man and the other a Jordanian medic who was treating him.

Saudi MERS death toll now 87

April 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.

Recommended for you

Zika virus infection alters human and viral RNA

October 20, 2016

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that Zika virus infection leads to modifications of both viral and human genetic material. These modifications—chemical tags known as ...

Food-poisoning bacteria may be behind Crohn's disease

October 19, 2016

People who retain a particular bacterium in their gut after a bout of food poisoning may be at an increased risk of developing Crohn's disease later in life, according to a new study led by researchers at McMaster University.

Neurodevelopmental model of Zika may provide rapid answers

October 19, 2016

A newly published study from researchers working in collaboration with the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia demonstrates fetal death and brain damage in early chick embryos similar to microcephaly—a ...

Scientists uncover new facets of Zika-related birth defects

October 17, 2016

In a study that could one day help eliminate the tragic birth defects caused by Zika virus, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have elucidated how the virus attacks the brains of newborns, ...


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.