Novel Coronavirus – Saudi Arabia – Update
International health experts began urgent talks on the Middle East coronavirus (MERS) on Tuesday amid concerns about larger numbers of milder infections possibly going undetected, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
Eight of the latest infections in Saudi Arabia were reported to be in people not displaying any symptoms of the disease, which can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia, the WHO said. Half of them were female health workers, and the rest children under 15 who had contact with confirmed cases.
Saudi Arabia’s health ministry announced at the weekend that two more people had died of the virus, shortly before Islam’s Ramadan fast when many Muslim pilgrims visit.
Millions are also expected to travel to Mecca for the main pilgrimage, the haj, that will take place in October, although Saudi authorities have cut the number of visas this year, citing safety concerns over expansion work at the main mosque site.
MERS is related to SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, because the virus that causes it is from the same coronavirus family. SARS emerged in China in 2002 and then spread around the world, killing about a tenth of the 8,000 people it infected.
Calls to Keep Deadly Disease Out of Britain
NPA has asked everyone in British agriculture to help keep a new pig disease out of Europe. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus has been present in this country in a mild form for over 40 years. But new strains which have spread from China to the United States are wiping out whole generations of newly-born pigs — and there is no effective treatment. It is essential the new strains are kept out of Britain, says NPA. It is calling for everyone involved in farming to adopt a number of extra-precautionary measures for the time being.
NPA says that as a matter of principle no meat products should ever be allowed onto pig units, because of their potential to introduce serious diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease, Classical Swine Fever, African Swine Fever, and perhaps the new virulent strains of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea.
If the new acute strains of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus spread to Britain they could have an impact every bit as bad as PMWS (Postweaning Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome) which arrived in Britain from mainland Europe about 13 years ago and contributed to a halving of the national herd, only coming under control in recent years, here and around the world, following the introduction of highly effective vaccines.
The current outbreak in the States, which is still spreading, is causing losses of up to 100 per cent of affected piglets and has been reported on over 200 units in 13 states since May. The virus from the outbreak in the States is said to be 99.4 per cent similar to an outbreak in China which has killed more than a million piglets since October 2010.