While the latest scary bird flu is still killing people in China and can’t quite make up its mind whether or not to mutate into a pandemic, a new virus is causing red alerts all over Europe and the Middle East.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) claimed its first victim in Saudi Arabia last September and has spread to 50 known people in eight countries, killing 30 of them. So, while the numbers are still small, it’s the lethality that’s causing major alarm at the World Health Organization (WHO).
Director General Dr. Margaret Chan of the WHO has called this coronavirus “a threat to the entire world.” Last week, she told a meeting of the World Health Assembly in Geneva:
“We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat. Any new disease that is emerging faster than our understanding is never under control. These are alarm bells and we must respond. The novel coronavirus is not a problem that any single country can manage by itself.””
Coronaviruses are the cause of most common colds. But this is no ordinary cold. The MERS virus causes fever, pneumonia and breathing difficulties. People drown in their own secretions. Two of the three people who collapsed from it in the UK, after arriving from Saudi Arabia, had to be treated on a machine that pumped the blood out their bodies and oxygenated it artificially, to give their hearts and lungs a chance to recover. The MERS virus causes fever, pneumonia and breathing difficulties. People drown in their own secretions.
So far, according to the WHO, there is “no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission.” But neither is there any firm evidence of how the virus is being transmitted.
Meanwhile, H7N9 is still considered “one of the most lethal influenza viruses we have seen so far” by Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director general. “It is an unusually dangerous virus for humans.”
Most of these super-dangerous bird and swine flus develop their lethality in the horrific poultry markets of Southeast Asia and in factory farms where pigs pick up bird flus from birds and human flus from humans, and then mix them up in their own bodies and pass them back to humans.
Another great reason for shutting down these chambers of horrors.