Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS had first been reported in South Korea on May 20th. And as of today there have been 122 confirmed infections and 9 reported deaths due to the outbreak in South Korea. Currently there are about 4000 people managed in isolation for suspected MERS infections in the country. Apart from South Korea there has been one reported infection from China too.
First reported in 2012 from Saudi Arabia, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus (MERS‐CoV). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but not always present. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported.
Approximately 36% of reported patients with MERS have died.
Although the majority of human cases of MERS have been attributed to human-to-human infections, camels are likely to be a major reservoir host for MERS-CoV and an animal source of MERS infection in humans. However, the exact role of camels in transmission of the virus and the exact route(s) of transmission are unknown.
The virus does not seem to pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as occurs when providing unprotected care to a patient.
Resources – WHO MERS info page