Deadly MERS Virus Detected In Egypt: First Cases Of 2014 Surface

The potentially deadly MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus has made a comeback in the region after a hiatus, it seems. The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) like disease was detected in a 27-year-old Egyptian civil engineer who was returning from Saudi Arabia, reports Fox News, citing a release by Egyptian news agency MENA. Saudi Arabia is widely considered to be the place of origin of MERS and is currently in the midst of a MERS epidemic with over 24 new cases reported. Meanwhile, the detection of the MERS virus in Egypt has set panic bells ringing in the country.

Egyptian medics have quarantined the man affected by the MERS virus and he has been transported to a Cairo hospital where his condition is being monitored.

MERS, was first detected in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and since then over 313 people have contracted the virus at various times. In all, 92 people have died of MERS which continues to remain an “incurable” disease. In 2012, the first verified case of MERS was confirmed on a 60-year-old man who had died of acute pneumonia and acute renal failure. In 2013, there were 6 reported MERS cases from there.

In 2014, there has been a spike in the number of people infected, worrying authorities on the possibility of the disease spreading to other countries. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has in a recent update confirmed the deaths of five people in the country from MERS. King Abdullah fired his health minister – following the outbreak. This is widely seen as a move to alleviate any concerns the general public in the country may have regarding infections by the MERS virus.

Since its detection in 2012, the MERS virus has spread across many countries and has even managed to reach Europe with four cases reported in the UK alone.

According to Reuters, the reason why officials are concerned about the spread of MERS is the fact that the disease has a 40 percent fatality rate. This number is considered high and since there is no known cure for the condition, it only makes the job difficult for doctors who treat patients with MERS.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has through its spokesperson expressed concern about the rising numbers of MERS cases from the region. In an effort to speed up medical research on a possible cure to MERS, Saudi Arabia has invited top vaccine makers from across the globe to collaborate with them to try and develop a vaccine against MERS.

[Image via NPR]