Map created by CUHK SpatioEpi Group
Since the report of first case of MERS-CoV infection in 2012, the newly discovered virus has continued to stay on. In Saudi Arabia, new cases were reported every month. As of the end of February 2015, a total of 920 cases have been reported in the country. The map shows the distribution of human cases in Saudi Arabia, while the graph illustrates the temporal change of reported cases since the beginning of 2013. There was clearly a peak in April and May 2014, during which a majority of known cases were found to be associated with human to human contacts. In the month of February in 2015, an upsurge was again noted. The human contact cases (light green bar in the chart) included also health care workers who got infected because of failure of infection control practice. Others could be traced back to exposure to animals (dark green bar). With improved diagnosis and surveillance, more cases have become characterized. The seasonal occurrence of MERS-CoV infections coincides with the timing of weaning of young camels, the host of the virus. It is therefore a concern that the new seasonal outbreak may continue to affect Middle Eastern countries in the ensuring months (March to May). World Health Organization has advised on enhancing surveillance and attention to infection control measure to prevent MERS-Co-V infection outbreak in healthcare settings. The global total of laboratory confirmed human cases has exceeded 1000. Data for the map were extracted from WHO and Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
MERS-CoV is the abbreviation for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, a newly discovered virus associated with severe respiratory symptoms in infected persons, largely from countries in the Middle East. "Corona" means crown, which refers to the crown-like appearance under electron microscope. Initially named as NCoV (novel coronavirus), the virus belongs to a common family composing of viruses responsible for common cold, and SARS that caused severe outbreaks in Hong Kong, back in 2003. The virus was structurally similar to coronavirus in bats and other animals. The first case of MERS-CoV infection was reported in April 2012. Scientific evidences suggested that MERS-CoV is a virus infecting dromedary camels, through which human infection occurred, though the exact mode of transmission is not well characterized. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented as a result of suboptimal infection control practice. There is no definitive treatment for MERS-CoV infection and about one-third of infected patients have died from the infection.
中東呼吸綜合症冠狀病毒 (MERS-CoV) 是導致新發現嚴重呼吸道感染的病毒，大部份個案來自中東。冠狀病毒取名於病毒在電子顯微鏡下的皇冠外形。冠狀病毒與引起上呼吸道感染的病毒和2003年香港沙士疫症的沙士冠狀病毒同屬一個病毒家族，結構上與蝙蝠及其他動物的冠狀病毒相似。2012年4月首次發現人類感染中東呼吸綜合症，其病毒當時被稱為新型冠狀病毒（NCoV）。科學研究發現MERS-CoV 主要在單峰駱駝之間傳播，再引致入類受到感染，當中的傳播過程仍未得以破解。人傳人的個案亦已出現，主要和醫療環境下感染控制措施不足有關。時至今日，仍然沒有有效的治療MERS-CoV方法，大約三分一感染者死亡。
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