Middle East Respiratory Syndrome: A new epidemic

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Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is a new epidemic which has spread in Middle Eastern Countries. It is caused by a type of coronavirus known as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). A lot of concern is given to it because of its close relationship with SARS virus which caused a pandemic in 2003

Coronavirus are RNA enveloped viruses which are named because of their crown like appearance. There are different viruses in the corona virus family. Most of them cause respiratory illness which may be range from mild flu like symptoms or to severe respiratory distress as in case of MERS and SARS.

MERS Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was first discovered in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. Origin of MERS is unknown it may be a mutation of some existing human coronavirus it may have originated from some animal source. Also its mode of transmission is unknown.

Symptoms of MERS start as cough fever and shortness of breath which then progress to severe pneumonia and renal failure within a week. So far about 61 cases have been reported since its discovery. Of these 46 cases were reported in Saudi Arabia. Total 34 deaths have been reported from MERS according to an update from CDC as of June 14, 2013.

WHO and CDC have not issued any warning regarding to traveling in Middle Eastern countries. But travelers should avoid close contact with sick people. Also wash your hand regularly and do not touch your eyes and nose with unwashed hands. Currently no vaccine is available for MERS.