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Concept: Arabian Peninsula


The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus has caused recurrent outbreaks in the Arabian Peninsula since 2012. Although MERS has low overall human-to-human transmission potential, there is occasional amplification in the healthcare setting, a pattern reminiscent of the dynamics of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreaks in 2003. Here we provide a head-to-head comparison of exposure patterns and transmission dynamics of large hospital clusters of MERS and SARS, including the most recent South Korean outbreak of MERS in 2015.

Concepts: Severe acute respiratory syndrome, Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Jordan


The Turin Shroud is traditionally considered to be the burial cloth in which the body of Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death approximately 2000 years ago. Here, we report the main findings from the analysis of genomic DNA extracted from dust particles vacuumed from parts of the body image and the lateral edge used for radiocarbon dating. Several plant taxa native to the Mediterranean area were identified as well as species with a primary center of origin in Asia, the Middle East or the Americas but introduced in a historical interval later than the Medieval period. Regarding human mitogenome lineages, our analyses detected sequences from multiple subjects of different ethnic origins, which clustered into a number of Western Eurasian haplogroups, including some known to be typical of Western Europe, the Near East, the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian sub-continent. Such diversity does not exclude a Medieval origin in Europe but it would be also compatible with the historic path followed by the Turin Shroud during its presumed journey from the Near East. Furthermore, the results raise the possibility of an Indian manufacture of the linen cloth.

Concepts: Arabian Peninsula, Middle East, Europe, Asia, Islam, Jordan, Jesus, Shroud of Turin


A novel coronavirus (MERS-CoV) causing severe, life-threatening respiratory disease has emerged in the Middle East at a time when two international mass gatherings in Saudi Arabia are imminent. While MERS-CoV has already spread to and within other countries, these mass gatherings could further amplify and/or accelerate its international dissemination, especially since the origins and geographic source of the virus remain poorly understood.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Riyadh, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Qatar, Jordan, Arabic language


We identified the near-full-genome sequence (29,908 nt, >99%) of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) from a nasal swab specimen from a dromedary camel in Egypt. We found that viruses genetically very similar to human MERS-CoV are infecting dromedaries beyond the Arabian Peninsula, where human MERS-CoV infections have not yet been detected.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Middle East, Islam, Livestock, Camel, Dromedary, Camelid


A human coronavirus, called the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), was first identified in September 2012 in samples obtained from a Saudi Arabian businessman who died from acute respiratory failure. Since then, 49 cases of infections caused by MERS-CoV (previously called a novel coronavirus) with 26 deaths have been reported to date. In this report, we describe a family case cluster of MERS-CoV infection, including the clinical presentation, treatment outcomes, and household relationships of three young men who became ill with MERS-CoV infection after the hospitalization of an elderly male relative, who died of the disease. Twenty-four other family members living in the same household and 124 attending staff members at the hospitals did not become ill. MERS-CoV infection may cause a spectrum of clinical illness. Although an animal reservoir is suspected, none has been discovered. Meanwhile, global concern rests on the ability of MERS-CoV to cause major illness in close contacts of patients.

Concepts: Disease, Severe acute respiratory syndrome, Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Riyadh, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Arabic language


PURPOSE: Epilepsy is very common in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with a prevalence of 6.54 per 1000. The present study was conducted to investigate the level of public awareness, and the attitudes and knowledge regarding epilepsy in the Saudi population in Riyadh - capital city of Saudi Arabia. METHODS: A survey consisting of 19 questions pertaining to epilepsy awareness was distributed to Saudi citizens living in Riyadh older than 15 years of age in malls, supermarkets, health clubs, mosques, universities and schools. RESULTS: Of the 7078 respondents who completed the questionnaire, 6756 (95.5%) had heard about epilepsy, 3024 (42.7%) had witnessed what they believed to be a seizure and 5164 (73%) would allow their children to interact with an individual who had epilepsy. However, 5382 (76%) respondents would not want their children to marry an individual with epilepsy, 1004 (14.2%) believed that epilepsy was infectious and 574 (8.1%) believed that epilepsy was a type of mental illness. A total of 1509 (21.3%) respondents were not aware of a single potential cause of epilepsy, 3493 (50.6%) would not seek medical advice if one of their relatives had epilepsy, 2221 (31.4%) did not know how to deal with an individual experiencing an epileptic episode and 6554 (92.6%) did not know that surgery was a treatment option for individuals with epilepsy in Saudi Arabia. Of the 7078 respondents, 3237 (45.7%) would not abide by a physician’s advice not to operate a motor vehicle because of their illness, of whom 1631 (50.4%) cited problems with the public transportation system as a reason for disregarding the doctor’s advice. The effect of age and level of education were statistically significant on most of the study variables. CONCLUSION: The level of epilepsy awareness in the Saudi population needs improvement.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Riyadh, Mecca, Jeddah, Ha'il, Dammam, Medina


We studied antibody response in 9 healthcare workers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, who survived Middle East respiratory syndrome, by using serial ELISA and indirect immunofluorescence assay testing. Among patients who had experienced severe pneumonia, antibody was detected for >18 months after infection. Antibody longevity was more variable in patients who had experienced milder disease.

Concepts: Antibody, Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Riyadh, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Immunofluorescence, Jordan


Data on the occurrence of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman were collected by dedicated boat surveys and via a public-sightings scheme during the period from 2011 to 2014. A total of 422 individual whale sharks were photo-identified from the Arabian Gulf and the northern Gulf of Oman during that period. The majority of sharks (81%, n = 341) were encountered at the Al Shaheen area of Qatar, 90 km off the coast, with the Musandam region of Oman a secondary area of interest. At Al Shaheen, there were significantly more male sharks (n = 171) than females (n = 78; X2 = 17.52, P < 0.05). Mean estimated total length (TL) for sharks was 6.90 m ± 1.24 (median = 7 m; n = 296). Males (7.25 m ± 1.34; median = 8 m, n = 171) were larger than females (6.44 m ±1.09; median = 7 m, n = 78; Mann-Whitney U test, p < 0.01). Of the male sharks assessed for maturity 63% were mature (n = 81), with 50% attaining maturity by 7.29 m and 100% by 9.00 m. Two female sharks of >9 m individuals were visually assessed as pregnant. Connectivity among sharks sighted in Qatari, Omani and UAE waters was confirmed by individual spot pattern matches. A total of 13 identified sharks were re-sighted at locations other than that at which they were first sighted, including movements into and out of the Arabian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz. Maximum likelihood techniques were used to model an estimated combined population for the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman of 2837 sharks ± 1243.91 S.E. (95% C.I. 1720-6295). The Al Shaheen aggregation is thus the first site described as being dominated by mature males while the free-swimming pregnant females are the first reported from the Indian Ocean.

Concepts: Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Persian Gulf, Shark, Gulf of Oman, Oman, Strait of Hormuz



Rapid-onset obesity, hypothalamic dysfunction, hypoventilation, and autonomic dysregulation (ROHHAD) is a rare disease, but could be fatal if not diagnosed early. It mimics many other diseases and it may take few years after the onset of rapid obesity to have the other clinical features. Therefore, any patient with rapid-onset obesity after the age of 2 years should have high index of suspicion and long term follow up. We report a case of ROHHAD in Saudi Arabia and we highlight the clinical features and the importance of early diagnosis and management.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Death, Medical terms, Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, Riyadh, ROHHAD