Truth Frequency Radio
Oct 22, 2013

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TIME

For more than a year, Saudi Arabia has struggled to control the new disease MERS. Now, with millions of Muslim pilgrims descending on the country, the challenge will get that much tougher.

In the sci-fi thriller Contagion, a new virus emerges from wildlife and jumps into human beings, wreaking havoc around the world. Millions die and society all but shuts down. The plot is frightening because it’s realistic—there are viruses out there in the animal population that, with the right genetic mutation, can jump the species barrier and infect us. If virulent enough and able to spread easily between people, we might find ourselves living in a real-life horror movie.

The film is loosely based on what the deadly but limited Nipah virus—the bat-to-pig-to-human infection identified 14 years ago in Malaysia—would look like if it could have easily spread around the world. Now we’re seeing a sequel of sorts. Some scientists who tackled that virus are battling a new coronavirus called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). The symptoms appear gastrointestinal (abdominal pain, diarrhea) or flu-like (fever, shortness of breath, heavy cough), but can worsen into severe pneumonia. It has killed 60 of 138 laboratory-confirmed patients since it first emerged in Jordan in April 2012. The majority of cases and deaths have appeared in Saudi Arabia; others were reported in Qatar, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Western Europe, where some patients sought better care or returned from visits to the region.

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