Indian health authorities have put international airports and seaports on alert for possible spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a deadly virus that has claimed 45 deaths since 2012.
The disease was first reported in September 2012 in Saudi Arabia, but has spread to several countries including Italy, France and UK. According to WHO, 88 lab-confirmed cases of the infection has been reported globally, with six additional cases from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“The first case is a 26-year-old man who is a close contact with a previously laboratory-confirmed case and the second case is a 42-year-old woman who is a health care worker. In the UAE, the four cases are health care workers from two hospitals in Abu Dhabi who took care of an earlier laboratory-confirmed patient. Of these, two cases, a 28-year-old man and 30-year-old woman, did not develop symptoms of illness. The other two cases, both women of 30 and 40 years old, had mild upper respiratory symptoms and are in stable condition,” said a release by WHO.
The deadly virus can cause illness ranging in severity from common cold to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrom) or H1N1 or Swine Flu. It is thought to be of animal origin but so far has it has not been identified in any animal species. The specific types of exposures that result in infection are also unknown. MERS-CoV infection generally presents as pneumonia, but has also caused kidney failure. The most common symptoms observed are fever, cough and breathing difficulties, while atypical symptoms such as diarrhea have also been reported. Currently there is no vaccine available for the disease.
Nine countries have reported cases of human infection with MERS-CoV, including France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and UAE and the common link is from Middle East.