Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus is a viral respiratory illness that was first reported in Saudi Arabia, in 2012. Symptoms are those of a severe, acute, respiratory illness, similar to pneumonia.
All known cases so far have been linked to travel or residence in and around the Arabian Peninsula.
In 2015, the virus affected 186 people in South Korea, killing 36 of them, after one person brought the virus from the Middle East. This was the largest outbreak so far.
Where the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV, or MERS) comes from remains a mystery, but it probably started in an animal. It has been found in camels and a bat.
There is currently no vaccine or cure for MERS-CoV, and so far it has been fatal in around 36 percent of cases. As coronaviruses tend to mutate, there are concerns that MERS could become a pandemic.
What is MERS?
MERS was previously known as the novel coronavirus (nCoV).
MERS-CoV belongs to the coronavirus family, the same family of viruses that cause the common cold.
Human coronaviruses were first classified in the mid-1960s, and six of them are known to affect humans, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and MERS.
Coronaviruses typically infect a single species or species that are closely related, but SARS-CoV infects both humans and animals. Monkeys, Himalayan palm civets, raccoon dogs, cats, dogs, and rodents are all susceptible.
MERS-CoV has so far been shown to infect humans, camels, and bats. It is believed to have started in bats and then transmitted to camels. From camels, it can pass to humans, but how this happens is also unclear.
MERS-CoV is different from the coronavirus that caused the 2003 outbreak of SARS, but both viruses are similar to the types of coronavirus found in bats.
Two cases of MERS-CoV have so far been confirmed in the United States. One was in Indiana and the other in Florida. Both patients were diagnosed in 2014, both had traveled to Saudi Arabia, and both recovered fully within 3 weeks.
All the cases outside Saudi Arabia were travel-related and originated in in the Middle East.
Source : Online