Netherlands reports first case of MERS virus

MERS-CoV particles as seen by negative stain electron microscopy. Virions contain characteristic club-like projections emanating from the viral membrane. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A first case of the dangerous Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS) has been detected in the Netherlands, in a man who had travelled to Saudi Arabia, authorities said Wednesday.

"He was infected during a visit to Saudi Arabia and is being treated" in hospital in The Hague, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) said in a statement.

The man was diagnosed on Tuesday and is being kept in strict isolation.

His condition is stable, the RIVM said, adding that authorities are getting in touch with everyone he has been in contact with.

MERS causes fever, cough and shortness of breath, and can be lethal particularly among older people and those with pre-existing health problems.

Some 30 percent of the several hundred people infected with it have died, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus first emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and recent research has suggested it may originate in camels.

The vast majority of cases have been in Saudi Arabia, but MERS has also been found in 16 other countries. Most cases involved people who had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia.

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