Spain reports first case of deadly MERS coronavirus

Spain said Wednesday that a woman who just returned from Saudi Arabia has been infected by the MERS coronavirus in the country's first case of the deadly disease.

The patient, who was born in Morocco but lives in Spain, is receiving treatment at a Madrid hospital and is in a "stable" condition, the health ministry said in a statement.

She had spent October in Saudi Arabia, where the disease first appeared in September 2012, it added.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has so far claimed 64 lives worldwide, with the greatest number of deaths in Saudi Arabia, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO said Monday there were a total of 150 laboratory-confirmed cases of the respiratory disease worldwide.

The disease has so far been detected in only four other European nations—Britain, Germany, France and Italy—always among people who had recently travelled to the Middle East.

It is unclear whether the woman had gone to the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, which gathered hundreds of thousands of faithful last month in an event that was nervously monitored for any MERS outbreak.

Riyadh had urged the elderly and chronically ill to avoid the hajj and had also advised pilgrims to wear face masks.

Experts are struggling to understand MERS, for which there is no vaccine.

It is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.

Like SARS, MERS appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering from a temperature, cough and breathing difficulty.

But it differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure and the extremely high death rate has caused serious concern.

In August, researchers pointed to Arabian camels as possible hosts of the virus.

Related Stories

Oman detects first MERS infection

date Oct 30, 2013

Oman has discovered the first case of the MERS coronavirus in the Gulf sultanate, Health Minister Ahmed al-Saeedi said on Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Fighting back against superbugs

date 1 hour ago

Antibiotics—and antibiotic resistance—are in the news once again, with announcements by McDonald's and Costco that they will eliminate antibiotics that are important to human medicine from use in the ...

Harnessing the power of microbes as therapeutics

date 2 hours ago

A new report recently released by the American Academy of Microbiology discusses how specific microbes can be modified to enhance their therapeutic potential for treating human diseases such as cancer and antibiotic resistant ...

New genetic link found for alcohol-related liver cirrhosis

date 2 hours ago

In most people, any liver damage that might occur from drinking alcohol is reversible. However, in 25 to 30 percent of alcoholics what begins as accumulation of fat in the liver progresses to inflammation, fibrosis and ultimately ...

Could camel antibodies protect humans from MERS?

date 2 hours ago

Antibodies from dromedary camels protected uninfected mice from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and helped infected mice expunge the disease, according to a study published online March 18th in the ...

Sierra Leone ends anti-Ebola lockdown after three days

date 6 hours ago

Sierra Leoneans were once again allowed to leave their homes Sunday evening after the government announced the end of a three-day nationwide lockdown aimed at preventing a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.