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WHO Calls for a MERS-Emergency Committee

Update Date: Jul 05, 2013 10:24 AM EDT
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Although the recent Middle East coronavirus (MERS) is currently not considered a pandemic that requires emergency care, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for a last minute committee as a preventive measure. MERS, which first appeared in September of last year, has killed 40 people so far and infected people from the Middle East and in Europe. This committee of international experts and specialists will now prepare for the possibility of MERS developing into a bigger threat.

According to the WHO flu expert, Kenji Fukuda, this committee is a somewhat standard protocol step when it comes to dealing with a virus that has the potential to become a global threat. This committee is the second one so far that has been set up by WHO. WHO created this new rule in 2007, a little bit after the world had to deal with the SARS outbreak. The first committee was created in 2009 in response to the H1N1 pandemic. MERS is very similar to SARS, a severe acute respiratory syndrome, which affected the global community from 2002 to 2003. MERS symptoms have been identified as renal failure, severe acute pneumonia, fever, cough and other respiratory conditions.

"We want to make sure we can move as quickly as possible if we need to," Fukuda had explained in a news conference in regards to the creation of the emergency committee. "If in the future we do see some kind of explosion or if there is some big outbreak or we think the situation has really changed, we will already have a group of emergency committee experts who are already up to speed so we don't have to go through a steep learning curve."

So far, MERS cases have mostly been concentrated in Saudi Arabia. However, there were a few cases identified in France, Great Britain and Italy. The virus is believed to have originated from the country of Jordan and can be transmitted between people under close contact.

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