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WHO: MERS Not Yet a Public Health Emergency

Agency says virus, concentrated in the Middle East, doesn't seem to spread easily among people

WEDNESDAY, May 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The World Health Organization says that, while there's growing concern about infections caused by the MERS virus, the threat does not yet constitute a public health emergency.

That's because there's "no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission" of the mysterious virus that first surfaced in the Middle East two years ago, the WHO said in a news release issued Tuesday.

The vast majority of MERS cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia, although there have been two confirmed reports of infection in the United States. Both cases involved health care workers who had worked in Saudi facilities caring for MERS patients before they traveled to the United States in recent weeks.

MERS has killed about one-quarter of the people who contracted the virus, U.S. health officials have reported. The health risk from MERS to the general public is very low, federal officials said Monday, because the virus is only passed through close contact.

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