What is MERS coronavirus?

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: With the new strain of coronavirus killing at least 45 people across the global, health experts are left worrying that the disease could reach epidemic proportions like the H1N1 swine flu virus or the SARS virus.

The new mutated strain of the coronavirus, which has hit the Gulf countries, is a cause of worry for the health authorities as not much is known about the deadly virus and out of the total 85 reported cases, nearly half of it has resulted in death of the infected patients.

Here are a few little known facts about the novel virus:

1. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERS, is a viral respiratory illness.

2. It is caused by a coronavirus called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). It was initially called “novel coronavirus,” or “nCoV”.

3. MERS-CoV is not spread from the same coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003.

4. The first case was reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.

5. People having MERS-CoV infection develop severe acute respiratory illness – fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, headache, body ache and pneumonia.

6. This virus has been shown to spread from infected people to others through close contact.

7. World Health Organisation has already notified that the potential of novel virus to be a pandemic or a global epidemic is there. However, WHO has stressed that there is no need to panic.

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