The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on May 13 in Geneva to discuss the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, which has been spreading in several Middle East countries. This will be the fifth such meeting since 2012. In the last two years, the virus has killed 126 people in Saudi Arabia alone, spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome corona virus (MERS-CoV) is considered deadlier than the related SARS virus that broke out in Asia in 2003, infecting 8,273 people and killing nearly 800 of them. MERS-CoV causes a lung infection and rapid kidney failure and kills more than 40% of those infected. There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for MERS.
“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, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
In addition to Saudi Arabia, MERS cases have also been reported in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and the United States, with most involving people who had traveled to Saudi Arabia or worked there.