MERS death toll in Saudi Arabia continues to rise

MERS death toll in Saudi Arabia continues to rise
2 min read
27 July, 2016
Two more people died in July after contracting the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, bringing the country's death toll from the camel-linked disease to 608.
Saudi men wear masks while tending to their camels during a 2014 MERS outbreak [AFP]
Two more people have died of MERS [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome] this week in Saudi Arabia, the country's ministry of health reported.

On Monday, a 27-year-old man from Buraydah died from the disease, followed by a 44-year-old man from Najran, close to the Yemeni border.

The two expatriates contracted the disease from primary exposure, meaning that they did not catch the virus from another MERS sufferer. Their deaths brings Saudi Arabia's MERS' death toll to 608.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organisation also reported that nine cases of MERS had been diagnosed between 2 and 14 July, including another two deaths. Of those cases, four were linked to direct and indirect exposure to camels, including cases where patients had consumed the animal's milk.

According to the WHO, the MERS-CoV virus that spreads the disease has been present in some camels in the Middle East region with those working with camels or drinking their raw milk at risk of catching the disease.

This link has caused Saudi Arabian authorities to ban the slaughter of camels for their meat in previous years, causing the price of the commodity to soar. 

The MERS-CoV virus belongs to the family of viruses known as coronaviruses, which include both the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS killed some 800 people in a global outbreak in 2003.

The MERS-CoV virus can cause symptoms such as fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure.