June 12, 2013
The World Health Organization is warning medial personnel to be on alert for symptoms of a deadly virus dubbed MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), which they say has the potential to circle the globe and cause a pandemic.
Workers are already in "alert phase" for two human strains of bird flu - H5N1 and H7N9, first detected in China in this spring.
"We are trying to find out as much as we can and we are concerned about these (three) viruses," Andrew Harper, WHO special adviser for health security and environment, told a news briefing.
"International concern about these infections is high, because it is possible for this virus to move around the world. There have been now several examples where the virus has moved from one country to another through travelers," the WHO said of MERS.
MERS-coronavirus, is a distant relative of SARS. It causes causes coughing, fever and pneumonia.It
emerged in Saudi Arabia last year has killed 31 people.
"The overall number of cases is limited, but the virus causes death in about 60 percent of patients," the WHO said.