Iran reports first MERS cases weeks before Ramadan

May 28, 2014

Iran has recorded its first two cases of the deadly MERS virus, both among patients who had been in hospital with a pilgrim returning from Saudi Arabia, reports said Wednesday.

The two infected women are sisters and one is in a critical condition, transmissible diseases unit chief Mohammad Mehdi Gooya told the Fars news agency.

Both are receiving specialist treatment in the hospital in the southern province of Kerman where they are believed to have been infected.

There was no immediate word on whether the returning pilgrim who was the suspected carrier had tested positive for the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

The vast majority of MERS cases worldwide since the virus's discovery two years ago have been in Saudi Arabia.

Nearly all cases recorded elsewhere have been among people who had recently travelled to the kingdom or one of its Gulf Arab neighbours, or had been in contact with someone who had.

Iran's first reported cases come just a month before the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan when pilgrim numbers are expected to rise sharply.

Nearly 900,000 Iranians make the pilgrimage to the Muslim holy places in Saudi Arabia each year, most of them during the annual hajj, which this year falls in October.

Gooya said Iranian authorities would test all returning pilgrims and that anybody displaying potential symptoms would be kept under quarantine for two weeks.

MERS is considered a deadlier but less transmissible cousin of the SARS virus, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, that appeared in Asia in 2003 and killed hundreds of people, mainly in China.

Like SARS, it appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering coughing, breathing difficulties and a temperature. But MERS differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure.

Studies have confirmed that the likely source of the disease is among Saudi Arabia's huge camel herd.

But a cluster of cases among medical staff and hospital patients in the kingdom in recent months have shown that the virus can be transmitted from person to person unless strict precautions are taken.

The World Health Organisation has urged medical authorities across the globe to step up measures to prevent infection.

Related Stories

Saudi MERS death toll rises to 126

May 9, 2014

Saudi Arabia's death toll from MERS has risen by five to 126 fatalities since the mystery respiratory virus first appeared in the kingdom in 2012, the health ministry said Friday.

Three new MERS deaths in Saudi Arabia

May 11, 2014

Three more people have died from the MERS coronavirus in Saudi Arabia, the health ministry said Sunday, taking the number of fatalities from the disease in the kingdom to 142.

Jordan reports new MERS death

May 12, 2014

A man has died in Jordan after being infected with the MERS virus, the government said Monday, on the eve of a World Health Organisation emergency meeting on the disease.

New deaths take Saudi MERS toll to 160

May 15, 2014

Health authorities in Saudi Arabia on Thursday announced the deaths of another three people from the MERS respiratory virus, taking the country's toll to 160.

Saudi announces new MERS death

May 19, 2014

Saudi health authorities reported Monday a new death from the MERS coronavirus, taking to 169 the overall number of fatalities from the disease in the world's worst-hit country.

Saudis announce two new MERS deaths

May 20, 2014

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday reported two new deaths from the MERS coronavirus, taking to 175 the overall number of fatalities from the respiratory disease in the world's worst-hit country.

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 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.