Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory infection caused by the newly identified MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV). MERS-CoV is a betacoronavirus derived from bats. Camels have been shown to have antibodies to MERS-CoV, but the exact source of infection in camels has not been identified. A strain of MERS-CoV known as HCoV-EMC/2012 found in the first patient in London in 2012 was found to have a 100% match to Egyptian tomb bats.
Middle East respiratory syndrome virus (MERS-CoV) 3-D image
Signs and symptoms
Early reports compared the virus to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and it has been referred to as Saudi Arabia's SARS-like virus. The first patient, in June 2012, had a "seven-day history of fever, cough, expectoration, and shortness of breath." One review of 47 laboratory confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia gave the most common presenting symptoms as fever in 98%, cough in 83%, shortness of breath in 72% and myalgia in 32% of patients. There were also frequent gastrointestinal symptoms with diarrhea in 26%, vomiting in 21%, abdominal pain in 17% of patients. 72% of patients required mechanical ventilation. There were also 3.3 males for every female. One study of a hospital based outbreak of MERS had an estimated incubation period of 5.5 days (95% confidence interval 1.9 to 14.7 days). MERS can range from asymptomatic disease to severe pneumonia leading to the acute respiratory distress syndrome. Renal failure, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and pericarditis have also been reported.
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