World Health Organization: MERS isn't emergency

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization said Wednesday that the outbreak of a puzzling disease found mainly in the Middle East is not a global health emergency.

Since 2012, the respiratory illness known as MERS or Middle East respiratory syndrome, has sickened more than 500 people and killed 145. Most cases have been in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, though the disease has also jumped to Asia, North Africa, Europe and the U.S.

Some experts say the spread of MERS is worryingly similar to the 2003 global outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, which infected about 8,000 people in 2003, killing nearly 800. MERS is genetically related to SARS.

Scientists are unsure how people are catching MERS but suspect the disease is linked to camels.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.