TIME infectious diseases

Egypt Reports First Case of MERS Virus

SAUDI-HEALTH-SARS-VIRUS
Saudi hospital employees wear mouth and nose masks as they stand outside the a local hospital's emergency department, on April 22, 2014 in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah. Egypt's Ministry of Health has confirmed that an Egyptian citizen who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia is infected with the virus. Stringer—AFP/Getty Images

As Saudi Arabia experiences a spike in the number of confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Egypt has now identified its first case of the often deadly virus: a man who was living in Saudi Arabia

Egypt has identified its first case of the often deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, the country’s health ministry announced on state media Saturday.

The 27-year-old patient, who is in stable condition at a Cairo hospital, had been living in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reports.

With more 313 confirmed infections, Saudi Arabia has been hit the hardest by the virus, which can cause fever, coughing and pneumonia and has more than a 40 percent death rate among confirmed cases.

Although the number of MERS patients worldwide is relatively small, the recent, rapid spread of the virus within Saudi Arabia has concerned health workers.

Scientists are unsure of the virus’ exact origins but believe it may have spread from camels. The virus does not spread as quickly as the similar SARS virus and could die out on its own, but scientists warn it could also mutate into something more easily spread, especially as millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca later this year.

[Reuters]

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