Deadly coronavirus serious risk in hospitals
LONDON - Reuters
AP photoThe new Middle East coronavirus that has killed 38 people after emerging late last year is a serious risk in hospitals because it is easily transmitted in healthcare environments, infectious disease experts said on June 19.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers said the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)was not only easily transmitted from patient to patient, but also from the transfer of sick patients to other hospitals.
Nine infected patients in Saudi Arabia had received dialysis treatment at the same hospital, some at the same time.
The international investigative team of specialists, who went to Saudi Arabia to analyze the outbreak in May, said it was even more deadly than a similar outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, in Canadian hospitals in 2003. MERS is related to SARS because the virus that causes it is from the same coronavirus family.
The MERS virus, which can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia, has spread from the Gulf to France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and Britain. The World Health Organization puts the latest global toll at 38 deaths from a total of 64 laboratory-confirmed cases.
The team, which included Saudi, Canadian and other scientists, was invited by Saudi officials to help investigate the outbreak in several Saudi hospitals.
For the study, they compared it to an outbreak of SARS in Toronto in 2003, and said the investigation “showed some surprising similarities between MERS and SARS.”