Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS): Threats Posed by the Virus (WSJ video)

An Indiana patient with the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) reported in the U.S. is stable. But the MERS virus has proved deadly elsewhere. What kind of threat does the virus present? Columbia University's Dr. W. Ian Lipkin discusses with the WSJ:



MERS was first identified in June 2012. Arabian camels were recently identified as the source of the respiratory virus. To date, there have been 401 confirmed cases of MERS in 12 countries, but all the cases originated in 6 countries in the Arabian Peninsula. More than 100 people have died.

New research has confirmed that camels can transmit the deadly MERS virus to people. Virologists at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, found that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome viruses in camels and people in the same geographical region are almost genetically identical.

MERS is closely related to the SARS virus, which arose in China and killed 800 people worldwide in 2002 and 2003. "While the SARS coronavirus probably crossed the species barrier only once by passing from bats to humans, we may presume that the MERS coronavirus is being constantly transmitted from camels to humans", said the researchers.

References:

MERS Can Be Transmitted From Camel to Human, Study Confirms – WebMD http://buff.ly/1s5Gw8h

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