MOH News
MOH issues safety alert on rift valley, dengue, and Khmura viruses
28 August 2007
Ref to the interview with a health technician published by a local daily, in which he claimed MOH is unable to diagnose rift valley, dengue, and Khumra viruses; that MOH lacks the necessary accurate labs required for diagnosing such viruses; and that his private lab is the main reference lab for MOH in this regard; MOH, on the basis of its responsibility to protect the safety of citizens and its requirement to explain the facts, would like to state the following:
1- MOH has its own reference labs in Riyadh, Jaddah, and Dammam. Those labs are equipped with the latest technologies required for diagnosing the said viruses, including the highly sensitive PCR technology. MOH has never sought the help of the interviewee lab for diagnosing any of the said viruses. It works in cooperation with a number of highly advanced centers, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, USA, in case the need arises for culturing highly dangerous viruses, which requires highly equipped labs referred to as Biosafety Level Four labs.
2- It is not correct that the interviewee is the first one who discovered the rift valley virus. The disease was diagnosed clinically for the first time, as is commonly known, by Dr. Tariq Ahmed Madani, the MOH consultant for infectious diseases and the consultant of infectious diseases at the MOH Riyadh Medical Complex. The first cases of the disease discovered prior to clinical diagnosis were announced by Dr. Mohammed Mohammed Al-Hazmi, the consultant of internal medicine at King Fahad Hospital in Jazan. The two scientists were honoured for their achievements by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahad bin Abdul Aziz, may his soul rest in peace.
3- As for the Khumra virus, which was named by MOH after the Khumra area south of Jeddah, the virus was isolated for the first time in 1994. This isolation is in fact attributed to the interviewee, who sent the virus to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta in 1994. It was found at that time that the virus was a new virus resembling genetically - to a large extent - the Kyasanur forest disease virus in India. The virus was preserved at the Centers for Disease Control and no information had been published about it till Dr. Tariq Ahmed Madani discovered 4 cases of bleeding fever and encephalitis in Makkah Al-Mukarramah during the 1421 Hajj season. Samples from the four cases were sent the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, where it was verified that the causative virus is the same virus preserved since 1994. Since then, 30 cases of the disease have been discovered, mostly in Makkah Al-Mukarramah, and all discovered cases were further verified at the MOH labs by using detectors prepared at the Centers for Disease Control. 

Last Update : 12 April 2011 09:50 PM
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