EMEA Health and Science Correspondent
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Jun 19, 2014

Ancient parasite highlights humans’ role in spread of disease

LONDON (Reuters) – The discovery of a schistosomiasis parasite egg in a 6,200-year-old grave in Syria may be the earliest evidence that agricultural irrigation systems in the Middle East contributed to a vast spread of disease, scientists said on Friday.

Schistosomiasis – also known as bilharzia, snail fever, or Katayama fever – is caused by flatworm parasites that live in the blood vessels of the bladder and intestines. The infection can lead to anaemia, kidney failure and bladder cancer.

Jun 17, 2014

WHO says MERS virus of concern before haj, surge abating

LONDON, June 17 (Reuters)- The deadly MERS virus remains a
serious public health problem, especially with the approach of
haj pilgrimages, but a recent surge in Saudi cases of the
respiratory disease appears to be abating, the World Health
Organisation said on Tuesday.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, which
causes coughing, fever and sometimes fatal pneumonia, has been
reported in more than 800 patients, mainly in Saudi Arabia.

Jun 16, 2014

cigarettes mostly used by young smokers, would-be quitters

LONDON (Reuters) – Nearly 30 million people across Europe now use e-cigarettes and are most likely to be aged between 15 and 24, who smoke tobacco regularly and are trying to quit, a new analysis shows.

The rising number of users has led to “staggering” growth in the availability of e-cigarettes with around 10 new brands coming to market every month, a second study showed.

Jun 12, 2014

Insight – Saudi MERS response hobbled by institutional failings

RIYADH/LONDON (Reuters) – When Saudi Arabia announced last week it had found 113 more cases of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), it didn’t just force a rethink of the threat the virus poses, it exposed institutional failings.

Saudi health sources and international virologists said poor communication and a lack of accountability in government departments, inadequate state oversight and a failure to learn from past mistakes have all hindered Saudi Arabia’s battle against the SARS-like virus.

Jun 12, 2014

Saudi MERS response hobbled by institutional failings

RIYADH/LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) – When Saudi Arabia
announced last week it had found 113 more cases of the deadly
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), it didn’t just force a
rethink of the threat the virus poses, it exposed institutional
failings.

Saudi health sources and international virologists said poor
communication and a lack of accountability in government
departments, inadequate state oversight and a failure to learn
from past mistakes have all hindered Saudi Arabia’s battle
against the SARS-like virus.

Jun 10, 2014

Genetically modified mosquitoes offer hope in malaria fight

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists have found a way of genetically modifying mosquitoes to produce sperm that only creates males, offering a potential fresh approach to fighting and eventually eradicating malaria.

Researchers from Imperial College London tested a genetic method that distorts the sex ratio of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the main transmitters of the malaria parasite, so that the female mosquitoes that bite and pass the disease to humans are no longer produced.

Jun 6, 2014

WHO experts find hospital breaches worsened MERS outbreak in UAE

LONDON (Reuters) – Lapses in hospital infection control measures exacerbated an outbreak of a deadly new viral disease which has infected more than 60 people and killed at least 10 in the United Arab Emirates, health investigators said on Friday.

Reporting the findings of a five-day mission to the UAE, experts from the World Health Organisation said, however, that they found no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of new Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Jun 5, 2014

Scientists question Saudi openness on deadly MERS virus outbreak

LONDON, June 5 (Reuters) – A dramatic upward revision in the
number of people killed by the MERS virus in Saudi Arabia may
signal a fresh approach from Riyadh, but also raises new
questions about how the two-year-old outbreak has been handled.

Experts in global health and infectious diseases say
transparency with data is critical to learning more about the
virus, which until two years ago had never been seen in humans
but has now killed more than 300 people worldwide.

Jun 4, 2014

Saudi study strengthens case against camels in MERS outbreak

LONDON (Reuters) – A Saudi man who became infected with and died of the new Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus contracted the disease from a camel in his own herd which was also sick, scientists said on Wednesday.

In a study which reinforces the case against camels as the prime suspects for transmitting the deadly virus from the animal world into people, researchers said that in this case it was highly likely the animal’s nasal secretions were to blame.

Jun 3, 2014

Saudi Arabia sacks minister criticized over handling of MERS

RIYADH/LONDON (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has sacked Deputy Health Minister Ziad Memish who has been criticized by some international scientists over his handling of the deadly MERS virus that has infected 575 people in the kingdom and spread around the world.

Memish was a key figure in Saudi Arabia’s efforts to contain the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a virus that causes coughing, fever and sometimes fatal pneumonia.

    • About Kate

      "I cover health and science news for the region of Europe, Middle East and Africa -- from flu pandemics to the newest planetary discovery to the latest drug and research developments. I joined Reuters in 1993 and worked in London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt before moving to BBC television to work on European politics for Newsnight for 2 years. Since returning to Reuters, I have also worked as a parliamentary correspondent in Westminster and on the main news desk of the London bureau."
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