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MERS strikes: 2 dead in 5 days, 4 contract virus in Saudi Arabia

26 August 2013
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS) has claimed two more lives in Saudi Arabia and four others have been diagnosed with the disease in the past five days, the Ministry of Health said on Sunday.

This brings the global death toll from MERS to 47, including 41 in Saudi Arabia.

One of the fatalities is a 51-year-old man suffering from cancer and chronic diseases in Riyadh, who had earlier been diagnosed with MERS. The other was a 54 year-old citizen, also suffering from chronic diseases, who had been previously reported as infected with this virus.

The two new cases of infection were registered in the southwestern region of Asir.

They include a man aged 31 with chronic illnesses, and another, 55, who was in contact with an infected person, the ministry said. Both are being treated.

On Wednesday, two cases were found in Riyadh. The first is a 50-year-old Saudi woman afflicted with cancer and other chronic diseases. The second case is a 70-year-old resident with several chronic diseases. Both are in ICU.
Experts are struggling to understand MERS, for which there is still no vaccine and which has an extremely high fatality rate of more than 51 percent.

It is considered a cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.

Like SARS, MERS is thought to have jumped from animals to humans, and it shares the former's flu-like symptoms -- but differs by also causing kidney failure.

© Arab News 2013

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