This is what we know about MERS, the deadly disease sweeping Asia

A sixth person has died from the respiratory infection

Six people have now died in South Korea from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

The latest victim, an 80-year-old man, contracted the disease at hospital.

The total number of cases in the country has reached 87, with 17 of those having picked up the illness from the Samsung Medical Centre in Seoul.

Deputy Prime Minister Choi Kyung-hwan said: “So far, all the MERS cases have been hospital-associated, and there has been no case of an infection in other social settings.”

In a press conference yesterday, he added: “We’re at the stage where MERS can certainly be controlled because all cases in our country are infections in health facilities, not yet having spread community wide”, the Wall Street Journal reports.

What is MERS?

MERS is part of the same family of viruses as the common cold and SARS, called Coronaviruses.

It appears to have originated in Saudi Arabia in 2012 with 36% of reported patients having died from the disease since then.

It’s not clear exactly how the virus came into being, however, it is thought camels that are carrying MERS are able to pass it to humans. Most cases are passed on human-to-human though.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms are similar to SARS, and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but not always present, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported.

The symptoms are more severe in people with weakened immune systems and the elderly – however some people can have the infection with no symptoms.

No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available, however, the WHO currently believes it is safe to travel to the affected areas.

What’s the risk to the UK?

There has been more than one case of MERS in the UK back in 2013, but those were isolated instances, and there is no evidence of any current risk to UK residents.

The WHO has more information about the virus.

NOW READ:

Heathrow

Pilots and staff launch multiple toxic air claims against British airlines

Foxtons

Foxtons charged a landlord £616 to change light fitting. Now it could face a £42m legal bill

Social Bookmarks