The MERS Virus Epidemic Is Just Waiting To Happen, And There’s No Cure

Alap Naik Desai

Middle Eastern Respiratory Coronavirus or as it widely known, the MERS Virus has been suddenly spreading its wings and the fallout is being witnessed in multiple countries.

In what could very well turn out to be the next Swine flu or Bird flu epidemic, there have been confirmed reports of the virus in new countries including Egypt, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Scientists are unable to confirm exactly why the MERS virus has suddenly jumped several thousand kilometers.

First identified in late 2012, The Inquisitr recently reported the sudden eruption of the MERS virus in Cairo Egypt. What was equally baffling was the fact that people suffering from the MERS virus weren't displaying typical symptoms. However, doctors narrowed on the diagnoses from the fact that the infected patient had recently traveled through Saudi Arabia.

The MERS virus typically causes symptoms like acute respiratory illness and shortness of breath. However, if not quickly identified or treated, it can cause kidney failures resulting in hospitalization or even death. The MERS virus belongs to the SARS virus family and hence may be sometimes confused with symptoms that are normally found during a common cold, reports abc News.

Public health experts have been tracking the disease for almost two years, but it is only in the recent weeks, there has been a very sharp rise in cases, ringing alarm bells at immigration counters and medical facilities.

So far there have been 350 cases and more than 100 deaths reported worldwide from the virus, but World Health Organization (WHO) has laboratory-confirmed only 254 cases with 93 deaths. Nonetheless, the MERS virus is now being suspected of being capable of mutation and that could be one possible reason for the sharp rise in infections, reports Reuters.

Unfortunately for the animals, the MERS virus may not have spread only through only through human–to–human contact. This time around, the camels seem to be the origin. Dr. Ian Lipkin, an epidemiologist and professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, who has been investigating the virus, said 75% of camels in Saudi Arabia have had the disease. He points out out that as camels are born in the spring, the MERS virus can spread from the young animals to people who interact with them.

What is the most alarming is the fact that the MERS virus doesn't have an effective vaccine and if recent rumors are to be believed, there could be some time, before one is developed. Currently, staying out of Saudi Arabia and wearing masks while interacting with anyone who may have travelled through the region is the only safeguard against the deadly MERS virus.

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