Since its discovery in 2012, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus has killed 102 people in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom reported that on Sunday, a nine-month-old died, raising April's death toll to 39.
MERS has no known vaccine, and is believed to be a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus, which killed 775 people in Asia in the early-2000s. Al-Jazeera reports that the virus has been "extraordinarily common" in camels for more than 20 years, and may have been passed from animals to humans.
Because little is known about MERS, people are worried about catching it. At least four doctors at the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah resigned early in April after refusing to treat MERS patients, due to fear of becoming infected. To quell these fears, National Guard Minister Prince Mitab stated that King Abdullah traveled to Jeddah on Thursday to discuss the "exaggerated and false rumors" about MERS, and the World Health Organization has offered to send experts to Saudi Arabia to investigate the pattern of how the virus is being transmitted.