Map created by CUHK SpatioEpi Group
In late April 2015, a Korean citizen travelled to Middle East and became infected with MERS-CoV. On his return to Seoul he felt sick and attended treatment at 3 medical institutions in early to middle of May before the condition was diagnosed. He was later transferred to another medical institution after diagnosis. Unknowingly he passed on the virus to his wife and institution roommates, and visitors to the same medical institution (first generation infections). Second generation infections occurred when others were exposed to first generation cases in healthcare settings. The map shows the distribution of 24 medical institutions that were visited by confirmed cases. The proportion of first generation infections fell with time, and they were replaced by second generation infections diagnosed at later time-points and in institutions further away. In South Korea the main mode of MERS-CoV transmission is direct contact with infected persons, while a proportion probably contracted the virus in the healthcare environment. Three weeks after the first case was reported on 20 May, the total number of confirmed cases has exceeded 100. South Korea has become a country with the highest number of cumulative cases, secondary only to Saudi Arabia.
Data for the map were taken from multiple media sources and official government releases, including Centre for Health Protection in Hong Kong.
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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