1st Korean MERS Virus Infections Confirmed

      May 21, 2015 12:18

      The first cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome have been reported in Korea. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said MERS was confirmed in a 68-year-old man and his 63-year-old wife who returned from Bahrain, where they worked in agriculture-related business.

      The man arrived at Incheon International Airport via Qatar and developed a fever and cough a week later. His wife, who was looking after him, also got infected.

      Both tested positive for the MERS coronavirus.

      The KCDC said the patients are being treated in a quarantined ward and their condition has improved.

      MERS is an infectious respiratory disease usually found in the Persian Gulf with a fatality rate as high as 40 percent and similar to SARS.

      Another patient, a 76-year-old man who shared a hospital room with the confirmed male patient, is being tested. The result is due out on Thursday.

      The infected man visited three hospitals as an outpatient and inpatient after returning to Korea, so the KCDC is checking all staff there to see if they got infected. So far none have shown symptoms.

      The latency period of MERS is up to 14 days. As the confirmed patient arrived in Korea on May 4, if symptoms have not occurred among fellow passengers on the plane, they are safe. It is unlikely that the virus spread during the latency period.

      The outbreak was first discovered in Saudi Arabia in September 2012, where 90 percent of patients were.

      There is no specific treatment or vaccine, so patients are treated with drugs for general respiratory diseases.

      The exact route of infection is not known, but all patients have direct or indirect links to the Arabia Peninsula, like a history of staying or living there or contact with a camel.

      Bahrain has had no MERS cases so far, and Qatar had none in the last two months.

      The Korean patient reportedly said he did not have any contact with a camel and did not have any respiratory disease patient around him. The KCDC is working on tracing the infection route.

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