- The Washington Times - Friday, May 31, 2013

A respiratory illness that is sweeping the Middle East, infecting dozens and killing at least 30, is a global threat that must be contained, medical experts said.

The Middle Eastern Respiratory Symptom Coronavirus has infected at least 50 in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

“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,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, the head of the World Health Organization, in remarks this week reported by The New York Daily News. “These are alarm bells, and we must respond. The novel coronavirus is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself. The [virus] is a threat to the entire world.”

The latest three deaths were reported in Saudi Arabia, the Daily News reported. The victims ranged in age from 24 to 60.

The virus was identified at a health clinic in Saudi Arabia when 10 of 22 people who were admitted for similar symptoms, and then diagnosed with MERS, died.

Medical experts have yet to track the source of the virus, but believe it originated in animals. They have no vaccine, and 50 percent of those who are infected have died, the Daily News reported.

A similarly alarming virus a decade ago, SARS, killed 774 and left another 8,000 ill, the Daily News reported.