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MERS 8 things you should know about the deadly virus

So far, the disease has claimed 6 lives with 23 reported to have contracted the disease and over 2,000 people placed under quarantine.

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play (WSJ)

In the last few of weeks, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has crept into headlines after reports emerged of an outbreak of the virus in South Korea.

So far, it has claimed 6 lives with 23 reported to have contracted the disease, and over 2,000 people placed under quarantine.

While MERS has remained largely in South Korea and China, this has been the largest outbreak of the disease outside the Middle East, where it was first discovered.

Here are 8 things you should know about MERS:


  1. An abbreviation for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERS is caused by a new type of coronavirus, which is a type of virus which causes common cold and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

  2. MERS was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 (which was also where and when the first death was recorded)  by Egyptian virologist Dr. Ali Mohamed Zaki. It is believed to have resulted from a zoonotic (animal) transmission although the exact source remains unclear.

  3. The virus appears to have originated in bats, spreading to camels in the 1990s before finally spreading to humans  in the early 2010s.

  4. Symptoms of MERS include a fever, cough and breathing difficulties, it can also cause pneumonia and kidney failure.

  5. This most recent outbreak was recorded in South Korea after  a man became infected during a business trip to Saudi Arabia. 6 people have died so far and over 23 people have contracted the disease, bringing the total number of cases to 87.

  6. MERS is transmitted from person to person and 36% of reported patients with the disease have died.

  7. There is no known cure for the disease.

  8. As of June 2015, MERS-CoV cases have been reported in over 20 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Turkey, Oman, Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia (none were confirmed), Austria, the United Kingdom, South Korea, the United States and China (both mainland and Hong Kong).


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