New MERS Virus Spreads in Hospitals

Since September, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has spread from human to human in Middle Eastern hospitals and has also caused pneumonia in patients in Europe.

MERS is believed to have infected 64 people, killing 38 of them. Researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine are saying the virus can spread quickly if patients are not isolated, hands are not washed and patients and clinicians don’t wear masks. In Saudi Arabia, 21 people were infected as patients unknowingly spread the virus by going from clinic to clinic.

Currently, there isn’t a reliable test to determine who is carrying MERS, which is related to SARS, reports NBC News. In 2002 and 2003, SARS killed nearly 800 people worldwide and infected 8,000.

Scientists are monitoring MERS very closely to see if it will spread as widely as SARS. So far, the virus has not been detected in North America.

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