There’s a new virus and it’s even deadlier than SARS, it’s called MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).
According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 60 cases throughout the Middle East and parts of Europe, including 38 deaths.
“It's a respiratory virus,” said Dr. Luis Ostrosky M.D., a professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at the UT Health Science Center at Houston. “It's transmitted from person to person by respiratory secretions… it produces a very severe ammonia that can be very life threatening.”
Compared to SARS 8 percent death rate, early numbers in a cluster of the virus in Saudi Arabia shows the fatality rate to be close to 65 percent.
There is not a specific antiviral treatment for MERS currently, which is one of the most worrisome things, Dr. Ostrosky said.
“The mortality rate seems to be very high so far,” he continued. “So if we do have a patient with the virus, all we can do is a supportive treatment to help them heal their symptoms and try and get over the virus on their own.”
So far there are no documented cases in the U.S. but doctors are taking extra precautions with patients. All the known patients with the virus are from the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and France and there are reports from Italy, Dr. Ostrosky said.
“The guidance we've been given here in the United States is to be very aware of patients coming into hospitals or clinics with respiratory symptoms with a history of travel to the Middle East or to one of those European countries,” he said.