Saudi Arabia reports 52 deaths from new virus; Middle East respiratory syndrome related to SARS

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia says one more person has died from a new respiratory virus related to SARS, bringing to 52 the number of deaths in the kingdom at the center of the outbreak.

The Health Ministry said Monday that an 83-year-old woman died over the weekend. She was among 124 people who have been infected with the virus in Saudi Arabia since September last year.

The new virus is related to SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed some 800 people in a global outbreak in 2003. It belongs to a family of viruses that most often causes the common cold.

It emerged in the Middle East and can cause rapid kidney failure but doesn't seem as infectious as SARS. It has been dubbed MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MERS is a beta coronavirus first reported in 2012 and has been spread between people who are in close contact.

So far, there are no reports of anyone in the United States getting infected with MERS.

The CDC advises that people follow these tips to help prevent respiratory illnesses:

-- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

-- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.

-- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

-- Avoid close contact, such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils, with sick people.

-- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

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