MERS in Saudi Arabia

MERS stands for middle eastern respiratory syndrome and it is similar to the SARS virus which erupted in China in 2003. It comes from a coronavirus that causing a severe respiratory disease that has a high fatality rate in humans. It is not yet known what causes this disease but it is strongly believed to originate from some sort of animal contact, possibly from Egyptian tomb bats which can manifest in other animals such as camels. This disease first appeared in Saudi Arabia but has spread to a few other countries after infected people travelled to and from the Saudi Arabia area before the disease was officially diagnosed. A cultural factor that facilitates this condition is that animals play an important role in the Arabian culture, an example would be for either food or transportation. A social factor that facilities this disease is the hajj season, which began June 28th and is the start of the holy muslim month of  Ramadan. During this time millions of muslims from all over the world travel to Mecca located in western Saudi Arabia allowing more opportunity for the disease to spread. Lastly some political factors that also aided in the spread of  MERS is the lack of communication and accountability in government departments at beginning of the outbreak. The Saudi Arabia government has since made some new health reforms to address this situation. These new reforms in the Saudi Arabian health system along with the work of the CDC and a private laboratory called Netherland’s Erasmus Medical Center are working to learn more about the cause disease and how to treat it. Anthropologists have also been brought in to help educate doctors and determine the relationships between humans and animals, specifically camels because they are believed to harbor MERS, in this part of the world. Below is a link to the work being done to understand the disease and the relationship between humans and the potential carriers, camels.

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“To Prevent MERS Pandemic, Respect Saudi Arabia’s Rights to the Virus | Al Jazeera America.” To Prevent MERS Pandemic, Respect Saudi Arabia’s Rights to the Virus | Al Jazeera America. Accessed August 7, 2014.
Reuters. “How Saudi Arabia Let the Deadly MERS Virus Spread.” Newsweek. June 12, 2014. Accessed August 7, 2014.
“Human Infection with MERS Coronavirus after Exposure to Infected Camels, Saudi Arabia, 2013 – Volume 20, Number 6-June 2014 – Emerging Infectious Disease Journal – CDC.” Human Infection with MERS Coronavirus after Exposure to Infected Camels, Saudi Arabia, 2013 – Volume 20, Number 6-June 2014 – Emerging Infectious Disease Journal – CDC. Accessed August 7, 2014.

Green, Emma. “Five Global Health Concerns.” The Atlantic. October 5, 2013. Accessed August 7, 2014.

“CDC Request Regarding Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).” Society for Medical Anthropology. May 20, 2014. Accessed August 7, 2014.
De Wit, Emmie. “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) Causes Transient Lower Respiratory Tract Infection in Rhesus Macaques.” PNAS. August 26, 2013. Accessed August 7, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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