JEDDAH – The head of Jeddah Health Affairs has said that the correct name for the potentially fatal virus that was reported nine days ago as having hospitalized four persons in the city is “Al-Khurma”, and not “Al-Khumra” as reported in the local media.
Sami Badawood also said the Al-Khurma virus made its first appearance with six cases in Jeddah in 1994 and was named at the time after the source, identified as “goats from the Taif region of Al-Khurma”, thereby refuting claims from other quarters that it was derived from the Al-Khumra District of Jeddah where some cases had been detected.
According to Al-Watan Arabic daily on Tuesday, Badawood also refuted suggestions that the illness was passed on by mosquitoes.
“The Al-Khurma virus is passed on to humans by mites that live in animal pens for sheep, goats and camels, and pets such as cats and rabbits can also carry the mites that have the disease,” Badawood was reported as saying at a press conference on Monday. “There is no scientific evidence that the illness is passed on through mosquitoes.”
It was also revealed that the four persons recently treated for the virus were first discovered to be infected three weeks ago, and that one was butcher.
Saudi Gazette reported this week that four cases of the misnamed “Al-Khumra” virus had been detected in residents of the north of Jeddah. Minister of Health Abdullah Al-Rabeah described the cases as “only individual instances which were immediately treated.”
Dr. Tariq Madani, a contagious disease specialist from King Abdulaziz University, said the virus remained relatively unknown and that it still had no vaccination or single cure. It was, he said, “more dangerous than Rift Valley Fever”, and “fatal for one in four.”
Madani said that symptoms of the virus were a high fever, inflammation of the liver and brain, and bleeding from the gums, nose, stomach, anus, womb, urinary tract or skin.