Saudi Arabia

Canada, Saudi Arabia and the CBC

As one of my colleagues often states, there is no escaping media studies in International and Global Studies, because the news media is how most of us receive information about global issues, even in an era of Twitter and blogs (OK news on the U.S. Presidency might be an exception). It’s interesting, therefore, to look at how different publications cover the news. As Colin Dwyer described in an article on the NPR website, Canadian diplomats denounced Saudi Arabia’s arrest of multiple human rights activists. Dwyer details how Saudi Arabia responded to the statements by denouncing Canada’s actions as meddling, recalling its ambassador, and freezing all new trade investments. Now Saudi Arabia has announced that it is withdrawing students from Canadian universities. …

MERS continues to spread

"Virus" by renjith krishnan at
“Virus” by renjith krishnan at

The news regarding the respiratory virus MERS-COV continues to be worrying. A second case of MERS has now been reported in the United States in Orlando, Florida. This individual is a health care worker from Saudi Arabia who traveled to the U.S., as was the previous case. This fact raises serious concerns about infection control measures in Saudi Arabia’s hospitals, as I discussed in an earlier post. Fortunately, he seems to be recovering. Equally significant, two Indonesians have recently fallen ill with the disease. The first died on April 29th, and the second is seriously sick. This man had gone to Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage. Given that there is no vaccine for MERS, nor is one likely to be developed in the near future, the continued appearance of MERS amongst health care workers from Saudi Arabia, and its spread outside the Kingdom’s borders, is a worrying sign. There are also concerns in the United Kingdom, given that both of the recent cases in the United States arrived after transiting through Heathrow. …

MERS and Saudi Health Care Workers

Historical photo of the 1918 Spanish influenza ward at Camp Funston, Kansas, showing the many patients ill with the flu- U.S. Army photographer
Historical photo of the 1918 Spanish influenza ward at Camp Funston, Kansas, showing the many patients ill with the flu- U.S. Army photographer

The CDC just reported the first case of MERS in the United States. A health care worker from Saudi Arabia recently traveled to the U.S. from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and became sick five days ago in Indiana. He has certainly been in contact with other people recently, not only on the flights, but also during a stopover in London.  He also took a bus trip from Chicago to Indiana. As usual, Ian MacKay’s blog has some of the best information on this virus, including a truly chilling chart of case counts. This makes clear the rapid growth of cases over the last month. Recent analyses have not identified any mutations in the virus that might account for this change. Another possibility for the spike in cases may be that infection control measures are breaking down in Saudi Arabia now, much as there were such initial failures with SARS in Canada in 2003. …

MERS, the next pandemic?

"Camel Caravan In A Desert" by m_bartosch at
“Camel Caravan In A Desert” by m_bartosch at

MERS COV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) first appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012. This disease is caused by a corona-virus, much like the SARS epidemic in 2003. A great deal of work was done early in the epidemic to identify the original host for this virus. Although there is a great deal of evidence associating the virus with camels, which are also infected, it now seems that the original host may be the Egyptian tomb bat, an appropriately scary name for a disease vector. Given that many other viruses seem to have bats as their original hosts, this would be unsurprising if true. The disease is a respiratory virus, which causes difficulty breathing, coughing, and fatigue. Roughly 40% of patients die. …

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