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.

Explore further: Three new MERS deaths in Saudi Arabia

Related Stories

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Recommended for you

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

January 12, 2018
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world—creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines—and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant ...

Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication

January 11, 2018
A new study reveals how dengue virus manages to reproduce itself in an infected person without triggering the body's normal defenses. Duke researchers report that dengue pulls off this hoax by co-opting a specialized structure ...

Different strains of same bacteria trigger widely varying immune responses

January 11, 2018
Genetic differences between different strains of the same pathogenic bacterial species appear to result in widely varying immune system responses, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

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.