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Six new cases of Mers virus hit Saudi Arabia, UAE

Published on Dec 31, 2013 11:50 PM

LONDON (Reuters) - Another five people in Saudi Arabia and one in the United Arab Emirates have become infected with the potentially deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) virus, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday.

The new infections, including one fatal case in a 73-year-old Saudi man and three in Saudi health workers who showed no adverse symptoms, bring the total confirmed cases of the respiratory disease to 176, of which 74 have died, the United Nations health agency said.

Mers emerged in the Middle East in 2012 and is from the same family as the Sars virus. It can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia.

Although the worldwide number of Mers infections is fairly small, the more than 40 percent death rate among confirmed cases and the spread of the virus beyond the Middle East is keeping scientists and public health officials on alert.

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