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 photo AP_mideast_mers_virus_jt_140427_16x9_992_zps098309ed.jpgEgyptian Muslim pilgrims wear masks to protect against MERS: Amr Nabil/AP Photo

Gillian Moheney from ABC News writes SARS-Like MERS Virus Spreads to New Countries, reporting a significant increase in new cases in recent months now spreading from Saudi Arabia to Jordon, United Arab Emerates, Egypt, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

MERS stands for Middle Eastern Respiratory Coronavirus which was first identified in 2012 and is related to the SARS virus and the common cold. Mahoney reports it causes "acute respiratory illness, shortness of breath, in severe cases kidney failure"

There have been 350 cases and more than 100 deaths reported worldwide from the virus, although the World Health Organization (WHO) has laboratory-confirmed only 254 cases with 93 deaths. Most of the reported infections have come from Middle East countries including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

This week the WHO released a report, which said that among newly diagnosed cases up to 75 percent could be human-to-human transmission, since a large number of health workers were infected with the disease. However there is evidence that the reason for the increase could be related to increased testing for the virus and a seasonal increase in the disease rather than virus mutation.

Dr. Ian Lipkin, a professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, tells us that 75 percent of Saudi Arabian camels have had the disease, and it is spread by contact.  

Lipkin also pointed out that when patients are treated with invasive pulmonary measures, the virus "deep in the lungs" can come to the surface and infect health care workers treating these patients. Lipkin said to combat the spread, more oversight will be needed to both regulate people's interactions with camels and to protect healthcare workers from infection.

There is no vaccine for the MERS Coronavirus.

Last night I reported that the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virius, PEDv virus has killed 10% of U.S. pig population causing spike in prices.

Earlier in the week I updated our reporting on the spread of the Ebola virus in Western Africa WHO reports Ebola outbreak spreading: 50 cases in Guinea's capital Conakry including 20 deaths. The official death toll yesterday was up to 140, which I will update again when I get back from some appointments this afternoon.

Viral outbreaks illustrate the critical role government must play in modern society. Libertarian philosophy completely fails to address the needs for collective research, regulation, and management of outbreaks such as this. Uncontrolled viral outbreaks to critical elements of our food supply, or to human populations as are being experienced with Ebola in Western Africa, or MERS in Saudi Arabia expose Republican austerity budgets such as Paul Ryan's with draconian cuts to the U.S.D.A., the National Health Institute, The National Science Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration is unwise, and even foolish and short-sited.

Educating ourselves on the facts and basic science of such outbreaks prepares us well for demolishing Republican and Libertarian facades of reason and erudition in upcoming elections. Representative Paul Ryan presents himself as one of the Republican Party's wise men. How long will it take farmers, truckers, and ancillary industries quickly and desperately learning biology, virology, bio-security, and scientific approaches to protect their livelihoods against Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus in 30 states to lose patience with Luddite Republicans celebrating ignorance by slashing critical government budget vital to protect American commercial farm interests?  

How lucky we are to have had a sufficient number of Democrats who believe in a strong government to protect our common good and advance the interests of public health with our Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes for Health, National Science Foundation, Food and Drug Administration, U.S.D.A.. Also, thank goodness we have fought off the naive and unwise attempts by Republican zealots to cut out contributions to United Nations organizations like World Health Organization which stands as our nations only defense against viral and bacteria epidemics.

Next time you hear some mindless idiot like Governor Rick Perry, or one of his supporters, or one of the Libertarians say they want to shut these agencies down, perhaps you can explain how deadly this "invasions" can be with a metaphor of armies with guns. These are our front line troops in "the war on diseases." Umm... I wonder if we armed our health care workers with body army and M16, if we could get the Republicans to support these vital investments in public health?


Do you support wise and compassionate funding of organizations and agencies that promote and protect public health such as the Centers For Disease Control, the National Science Foundation, the NIH, the F.D.A, U.S.D.A, and the W.H.O.?

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