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Concept: Qatar

200

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

152

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

67

Dinosaur remains from the Arabian subcontinent are exceedingly rare, and those that have been documented manifest indeterminate affinities. Consequently the discovery of a small, but diagnostic, accumulation of elements from Campanian-Maastrichtian (∼75 Ma) deposits in northwestern Saudi Arabia is significant because it constitutes the first taxonomically identifiable dinosaur material described from the Arabian Peninsula. The fossils include a series of possible lithostrotian titanosaur caudal vertebrae, and some isolated theropod marginal teeth that share unique character states and metric parameters (analyzed using multivariate statistical methods) with derived abelisaurids - this is the first justifiable example of a non-avian carnivorous dinosaur clade from Arabia. The recognition of titanosaurians and abelisaurids from Saudi Arabia extends the palaeogeographical range of these groups along the entire northern Gondwanan margin during the latest Cretaceous. Moreover, given the extreme paucity of coeval occurrences elsewhere, the Saudi Arabian fossils provide a tantalizing glimpse into dinosaurian assemblage diversity within the region.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Mecca, Qatar, Yemen, Dinosaur, Iraq

57

The identification of a novel β coronavirus, nCoV, as the causative agent of severe respiratory illness in humans originating in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan has raised concerns about the possibility of a coronavirus pandemic similar to that of SARS-CoV. As a definitive treatment regimen has never been thoroughly evaluated for coronavirus infections, there is an urgent need to rapidly identify potential therapeutics to address future cases of nCoV. To determine an intervention strategy, the effect of interferon-α2b and ribavirin on nCoV isolate hCoV-EMC/2012 replication in Vero and LLC-MK2 cells was evaluated. hCoV-EMC/2012 was sensitive to both interferon-α2b and ribavirin alone in Vero and LLC-MK2 cells, but only at relatively high concentrations; however, when combined, lower concentrations of interferon-α2b and ribavirin achieved comparable endpoints. Thus, a combination of interferon-α2b and ribavirin, which are already commonly used in the clinic, may be useful for patient management in the event of future nCoV infections.

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

49

We investigated a case of human infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) after exposure to infected camels. Analysis of the whole human-derived virus and 15% of the camel-derived virus sequence yielded nucleotide polymorphism signatures suggestive of cross-species transmission. Camels may act as a direct source of human MERS-CoV infection.

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

42

The source of human infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus remains unknown. Molecular investigation indicated that bats in Saudi Arabia are infected with several alphacoronaviruses and betacoronaviruses. Virus from 1 bat showed 100% nucleotide identity to virus from the human index case-patient. Bats might play a role in human infection.

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

40

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has caused an ongoing outbreak of severe acute respiratory tract infection in humans in the Arabian Peninsula since 2012. Dromedary camels have been implicated as possible viral reservoirs. We used serologic assays to analyze 651 dromedary camel serum samples from the United Arab Emirates; 151 of 651 samples were obtained in 2003, well before onset of the current epidemic, and 500 serum samples were obtained in 2013. Recombinant spike protein-specific immunofluorescence and virus neutralization tests enabled clear discrimination between MERS-CoV and bovine CoV infections. Most (632/651, 97.1%) camels had antibodies against MERS-CoV. This result included all 151 serum samples obtained in 2003. Most (389/651, 59.8%) serum samples had MERS-CoV-neutralizing antibody titers >1,280. Dromedary camels from the United Arab Emirates were infected at high rates with MERS-CoV or a closely related, probably conspecific, virus long before the first human MERS cases.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Qatar, Camel

40

During the summer of 2012, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia a hitherto unknown coronavirus was isolated from the sputum of a patient with acute pneumonia and renal failure (1, 2).…

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

37

Since the identification of the first case of infection with the Middle East respiratory syndrome corona virus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia in June 2012, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases has exceeded 941 cases globally, of which 347 died. The disease presents as severe respiratory infection often with shock, acute kidney injury, and coagulopathy. Recently, we observed three cases who presented with neurologic symptoms. These are so far the first reported cases of neurologic injury associated with MERS-CoV infection.

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

26

We would like to draw attention of readers to an emerging smoking habit known as Dokha. Dokha is available in small glass pots and is smoked using a small pipe known as “Midwakh” (Figure 1). The Midwakh bowl is filled with 0.5-1 gm of Dokha for each use. Dokha is a regional tobacco mix of leaves, bark, and aromatic herbs. The word “Dokha” is an Arabic term for dizziness or lightheadedness. Dokha was traditionally smoked by the Bedouins and sailors in the Arabian Peninsula, particularly the Gulf area. Over the past few years, Dokha smoking has become popular among the adolescents, from the Middle East (John & Muttappallymyalil, 2013). This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq