Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is in the news again. The first U.S. case was diagnosed in Indiana on May 2, reported to be a healthcare worker who has recently returned from Saudi Arabia. The CDC is now following up on this case, stating that there is no cause for alarm. Meanwhile, health authorities in the Middle East reported an increasing number of lab-confirmed new cases. The dramatic spike in overseas cases during the final week of April 2014 was expected to continue through May. Since this emerging disease was first identified in 2012, it has caused over 100 deaths worldwide.
The latest research, published on April 19, 2014 in the journal mBio, lends support to previous suspicions that camels are a reservoir or a vector for the virus. Researchers recovered the virus that causes MERS from the nasal swabs of camels. They were able to demonstrate that its genetic sequences are indistinguishable from the virus found in humans.
What you should know about MERS:
MERS is a respiratory illness that is caused by a coronavirus known as MERS-Cov. People who become ill develop severe, acute respiratory symptoms that include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. However, others who are screened after contact with a MERS patient have tested positive for the virus but have not become ill at all.
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