A NEW VIRUS IS A "THREAT TO THE WORLD"
Published June 24, 2013 | by Sentinel
Virus from the Middle East began to claim lives
By Callum Wood – June 4, 2013 –
A potentially deadly from the Middle East virus made his way to Europe, highlighting the increased potential pandemics facing us. The virus, respiratory syndrome coronavirus in the Middle East (MERS-CoV), formerly known as the new coronavirus was confirmed in 44 people worldwide since its initial detection. The majority of cases came from the Middle East. Scientists are puzzled as to how the virus could reach into humans, and where it has spread. The strain of the larger family of coronaviruses, which covers many illnesses from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which does not help to identify the origin of the virus.
There is still a lot that scientists do not know about MERS-CoV. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, gave a speech at the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva on May 27, the deadly new strain of coronavirus. She said, "We will understand only too little about this virus when compared to the magnitude of the potential threat. Any new disease that is growing faster than our understanding is never under control. "
When a high-ranking member of one of the most prestigious health organizations in the world bluntly states that experts do not yet understand this deadly virus, people have to sit and listen.
Chan’s speech was full of warnings. She described the virus as "a threat to the entire world." Keep in mind that this statement was made by someone who deals with health issues around the world on a daily basis. She sees this new strain as a major cause for concern, even more than the recent outbreak of H7N9 influenza in Asia.
His warning comes at a time when the MERS-CoV has traveled the Middle East to Europe. A man traveled from Saudi Arabia to France while carrying the virus without knowing it. When he fell ill and was taken to hospital, he then infected at least one other person before succumbing to the disease. The second infected man left the hospital before doctors realize what had happened. The incubation period of the virus is more than 12 days, which makes it difficult to detect. The man was then taken back to the hospital in critical condition.
Of the 44 cases reported worldwide, 23 people died, fixing the mortality rate at about 50 percent. With so many outstanding questions about the disease, Chan said: "We need more information, and we need it quickly, urgently."
But what kind of information do they need? Science can come up with something to try and eliminate this new disease, but how many deaths will it take to get there? There are several strains of influenza and other emerging diseases, but there is rarely another virus similar to penicillin from laboratories. As mentioned above, the H7N9 is resistant to drugs that have been used in the past.
The information that humanity needs is why these plagues fall on us in the first place. While the pharmaceutical industry has been effective in the fight against many diseases, new diseases continue to grow.
As we explained in our article titled, "The coming pandemic diseases," the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are biblical figures that many can identify, but few can really understand the meaning. One of those riders, the pale horse, means the spread of disease and pestilence in this period of the End Times. MERS-CoV may not be the beginning of a major pandemic, but it is connected to the most tragic time that have yet to befall mankind.
Do you understand the weather where you live? Are you ready for unprecedented devastation by diseases such as the world has ever known? For those who faithfully obey God, He promises;
"You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at your right, you will not be achieved. "(Psalm 91: 5-7)
This is a great hope that we can have, knowing the difficult times ahead.
"And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and it will seem terrible things and great signs from heaven. "(Luke 21: 11)
Happy 1st birthday Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
A coronavirus schematic. The spiky bits give the virus
its name(corona=crown) and represent the
receptor binding, antigenic Spike protein.
…I can remember when you were just a novel little thing.
How you have grown young prince and how clever of you to emerge in a Kingdom of all places (corona=crown, named for it’s spikey appearance). You’ve certainly garnered attention worthy of a King given the relatively few cases of disease you gave been associated with in the first year we’ve known of you.
It was September 20th when Dr Zaki 1st alerted the world to the death of a Saudi man due to what looked to be a new coronavirus (CoV). Today we have over 135 cases 58 deaths (43%).
I’ve previously covered Zaki’s disocvery and the problems posed for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) by the way in which he announced that discovery, apparently without the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) foreknowledge. The way in which the sample was exported from the KSA without their prior consent was also problematic for them.
Soon after we heard of it, we had virus-detection assays with which we could seek out new cases. Were they used as they might have been in the days of the SARS-CoV? Nope. And there still seems to be only a single laboratory in KSA testing for MERS-CoV (despite reports of 3), with Dr Abdullah Al-Aeeri (a director of hospital infection control) claiming a 72-hour reporting turnaround time.
Is there an antibody detection assay that has been validated using a panel of known positive sera? Nope. There are some innovative antibody-detection methods around but why do they only include a single positive control? Is there no collaboration at all? Why is the KSA not leading the charge to develop these diagnostics and to hunt for an animal host? Why wait on advice from external organizations to screen samples?
Why has the necessary testing capacity not been built well before now? Is it to do with that pesky material transfer agreement? I hope not because there is little evidence for that being a real block to anything from a public health standpoint.
At least we have some new MERS-CoV sequences to celebrate the birthday with. Although they and the 9 preceding them represent less than half of the relatively small number of cases described to date. Why can’t the typing region sequences be released? That should really be part of the diagnostic process. Okay, those may not inform us about the evolution of key regions of the virus but they do confirm it is the strain we know. Why not focus on full or subgenomic Spike gene sequences? They might be a better sentinel for keeping tabs on MERS-CoV change over time.
Most of the detail about MERS-CoV and cases of MERS has come through the peer-reviewed scientific literature. That is pretty normal for respiratory viruses that are not notifiable. But it’s generally a slow medium. Is MERS infection a notifiable disease? It is in some countries (e.g. the US and New Zealand), but is it at the epicenter of the outbreak, the KSA? I’m not sure. It’s not obviously stated as such anywhere I looked on the KSA MOH website.
The World Health Organization politely notes:
WHO encourages all Member States to enhance their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns of SARI or pneumonia cases. WHO urges Member States to notify or verify to WHO any probable or confirmed case of infection with MERS-CoV.
How’s that been working out? In a nice summary of the lack of communication, Helen Branswell and Declan Butler highlight that, as usual, everyone who was asked agreed that it’s not working out well at all. In fact it’s pretty woeful. And to add to matters, the latest WHO Disease Outbreak News (DON) takes the form of a summary of 18 "new" cases; no extra or confirmatory detail to be had from it. SO the KSA MOH is now the source for detail.
If we were talking about wanting more data on the monthly proportion of rhinovirus infections, the KSA would be justified in saying that the world doesn’t need to know (I’d like to but that’s my thing).
If we were talking about influenza, then there are plenty of international public health sites publishing these notifiable data on the internet; here’s Queensland, Australia’s for example.
But we’re talking about an emerging disease which kills half of the people it infects, is caused by a novel virus for which no host is known, which transmits between people in a way we don’t yet understand, which is shed from ill (or well) people for an undefined period of time (if at all), which remains infectious in the environment for who knows how long, which jumps to other countries, which may only cause severe disease in those who are already ill with another disease, which may be endemically spreading within the community as mild or asymptomatic infections, for which there is no vaccine or proven antiviral therapy available..I’d say it’s a no-brainer that at the very least the WHO deserves regular and detailed updates of what’s going on. Reading between the lines, that does not seem to be happening even behind closed doors.
The mass gathering of pilgrims known as the Hajj is fast approaching. This may trigger a large increase in MERS cases or, in the worst case, a pandemic. I personally believe it won’t go that far. We shouldn’t forget is the 2nd Hajj for MERS. But perhaps the virus is much more widespread than it was in October 2012. But without testing data, we can only guess.
So, it’s your 1st birthday MERS-CoV. But instead of wishing you a happy birthday you opportunistic, spiky little killer, I’m wishing Dr Zaki well and congratulating him on co-parenting the birth of this novel coronavirus. Going by what we’ve seen to date, his actions may have been the only way we would have ever heard of this virus otherwise.
And, as noted previously, but not given much air to in the above rant (thanks to @MicorbeLover for straightening me out)…
It’s very sad that there are real people in these numbers who have died from MERS. You may have noticed that I try and stick with the cold number-crunching aspect of these outbreaks. It’s not because I’m a heartless b&^$# but because that is not what this blog is about. That and my editorialisation and expositionary writing consume what little time I have spare. But I don’t feel that I have enough information to make any other comments about these or any other lives lost to infectious disease. I personally feel that any unexpected and acute loss of life (if I had to scale loss of life) is the worst kind of loss; it’s a waste of potential, a source of great sorrow for all involved and it’s something we should all strive to prevent, if we can. I know that’s not much to convey, but it’s all I can offer from my kinda comfy chair in Brisbane.
The Saudi MOH says it better in anyway; May Allah have mercy upon the deceased.