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This is truly alarming news. An outbreak in Saudi Arabia of a lethal new strain of virus named MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)  has coincided with the return of Muslim Pilgrims from the Hajj, and the Republicans' deliberate crippling of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

MERS is a virus had spread from bats to humans. This new outbreak has killed 48.7% of its victims in Saudi Arabia so far making it a dire threat we shouldn't be unprepared for as a technologically advanced nation. Yet that's exactly what these reckless Republican fanatics have done.

  Shutdown alarms health officials amid MERS, flu threat

Melissa Maynard, Pew/Stateline Staff Writer

This week more than 11,000 U.S. Muslims are expected to join millions of other pilgrims in Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. When the Americans return home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health departments will be watching for any sign of the MERS virus that has caused severe acute respiratory illness in 140 people since 2012, killing about half of them.

But because of the shutdown of the federal government, about 9,000 of the CDC's 15,000 workers have been furloughed. James Blumenstock, chief of public health practice for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said states are concerned that the absence of those workers might slow down identification and response to MERS cases if the virus spreads to the U.S.

Shutdown hits scientists hard, White House says

Conor Finnegan

The National Institutes of Health, the nation's top medical research facility, has lost almost three-quarters of its staff, forcing it to turn away most new patients from its studies. Funding for the NIH became a focal point of debate early in the shutdown when reports emerged that children with cancer were being denied entry into potentially life-saving studies.

The majority of Americans may feel the greatest impact, however, from the cuts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Two-thirds of its personnel have been sent home, and as flu season begins, influenza monitoring has been cut back, according to the White House.

Still, the CDC will continue its most important role in monitoring any imminent threats to the public's health, and most flu vaccines are produced by private companies.
The CDC will be able to monitor the situation, but the CDC and the NIH won't be able to respond as quickly should an outbreak of MERS occur in this country. That could be precious time lost for a US population vulnerable to this deadly new virus strain.
MERS-CoV: Returning pilgrims could be exposed to virus

By Qaiser Butt

MERS-CoV acts like a cold virus and attacks the respiratory system, which can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure, according to the US-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. However, officials do not know much about how the newly discovered MERS-Cov spreads, which makes it extremely difficult to take prevention measures.

Its time for Americans to tell the Republicans crybabies to let the adults resume the business of government, as if our lives depended on it, because there's some possibility they may.

Also see: Shutdown Crippling Scientific Research: Nobel Prize-Winning Scientists Furloughed, NIH a Ghost Town

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