Skip to main content

Newly discovered virus takes more lives, spreads

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
May 30, 2013 -- Updated 1112 GMT (1912 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Of 49 known infections, 27 have ended in death
  • Symptoms are cold-like but are severe and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure
  • The WHO calls the MERS-CoV virus "a threat to the entire world"

(CNN) -- A new SARS-like virus recently found in humans continues to spread -- with the worldwide total now at 49, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Of the 49 known infections with the MERS-CoV virus, 27 have resulted in death, the organization said.

The latest deaths were reported in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi health ministry said Wednesday that three people died from their infections in the country's eastern region.

Health workers infected with coronavirus
How is dangerous new virus spreading?
WHO tracks new virus to Middle East

The virus is "a threat to the entire world," the WHO's general director said Monday.

5 things to know about the coronavirus

It "is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself," Margaret Chan said Monday in her closing remarks at the 66th World Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

Although many of the cases have occurred on the Arabian Peninsula, people have died of the infection elsewhere.

However, "all of the European cases have had a direct or indirect connection to the Middle East," the WHO said earlier this month. But "in France and the United Kingdom, there has been limited local transmission among close contacts who had not been to the Middle East but had been in contact with a traveler recently returned from the Middle East."

On Tuesday, a patient died in France after having contracted the virus during a trip to the Middle East, the WHO reported.

Coronaviruses cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, as well as a variety of animal diseases.

However, the new virus is not SARS.

The WHO recently gave it a more specific name: Middle East respiratory symptom coronavirus, or MERS-CoV.

It acts like a cold virus and attacks the respiratory system, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said. But symptoms, which include fever and a cough, are severe and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

Health officials do not yet know much about how the virus spreads, which makes it hard for scientists to prevent infections, Chan said.

The WHO is calling for the world to pull together its resources to study and tackle the virus.

New virus is a 'threat to the entire world'

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 0317 GMT (1117 HKT)
The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by ISIS militants brings into focus the risks faced by reporters in conflict zones.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 0433 GMT (1233 HKT)
About $35,000 was taken from the bank accounts of four passengers on board Flight 370.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 0938 GMT (1738 HKT)
Five survivors of acid attacks capture India's attention with a "ground breaking" photo shoot.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1732 GMT (0132 HKT)
The execution of a journalist by a British-accented jihadist is a direct challenge to the international community. It's time for the U.S. to move, writes Frida Ghitis.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
You've seen her turn on the catwalk, but her income might make your head spin.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0904 GMT (1704 HKT)
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join the country's military.
Drinkers guzzled an incredible 10.3 billion liters of this brand in 2013, making it the world's No.1 beer. And you may have never heard of it.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT