Mers Coronavirus

MERS Coronavirus Coronavirus is typically known to cause common cold and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). They belong to family Coronaviridae. It is an enveloped virus; it has a positive sense RNA genome with helical symmetry nucleocapsid. There has been emergence of new strain of coronavirus in Middle East known to cause Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. This was reported in September, 2012 by Dr. Ali Mohamed Zaki (an Egyptian virologist) at the Virology Laboratory of Dr Soliman Fakeeh Hospital Jeddah Saudi Arabia.Dr. Zaki managed to isolate an unidentified coronavirus from the sputum of a 60-year-old male patient suffering from acute pneumonia associated with acute renal failure. The MERS was also referred to as SARS-like virus or novel coronavirus or Saudi SARS. As of 30 May 2013, MERS has infected at least 51 people with cases reported in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy. The death toll had risen to 30. The methodology used by Dr.Zaki was that the clinical isolate was initially tested for influenza virus A, influenza virus B, enterovirus and adenovirus, but all tested negative. When tested with pancoronavirus degenerate primer-based method by RT-PCR amplification and sequencing of a 251-bp fragment of the coronavirus polymerase gene, the isolate gave a band at a molecular weight appropriate for a coronavirus. The virus RNA was tested also in Dr. Ron Fouchier’s laboratory in Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam (Netherlands) and was confirmed to be a new member of the beta group of coronaviruses, closely related to bat coronaviruses.It has been reasoned that MERS Coronavirus doesn’t spread easily from person to person, however people reported so far with the disease belongs to older strata of society, often with other medical conditions. The symptoms of the disease includes: * common cold * pneumonia * sudden and serious respiratory illness * cough * shortness of breath * fever Till now, there is no specific treatment. People who have become sick with this virus are treated for their symptoms. And the best prevention is to keep a good hygiene.In humans, the virus has shown a strong tropism for bronchial epithelial cells (especially non-ciliated), and has been shown to effectively evade innate immune responses and counter interferon production in these cells. This kind of tropism is unique in most respiratory viruses targeting ciliated cells. Coronaviruses are grouped into three categories: Alpha, Beta and Gamma. Bat coronaviruses belongs to gene pool for Group 1 (Alphacoronaviruses) and Group 2 (Betacoronaviruses).Avian coronaviruses are the gene pool for Group 3 (Gammacoronaviruses). Till today, no known regular contact exists between humans and bats. But, it is believed that an intermediate host is responsible for the sudden appearance of the virus in the human population. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an independent agency of the European Union established in 2005 to strengthen Europe’s defense against infectious diseases, is monitoring MERS-Coronavirus.MERS-Coronavirus is more closely related to the bat coronaviruses HKU4 and HKU5 than it is to SARS-Coronavirus, sharing more than 90% sequence identity with their closest relationships, bat coronaviruses HKU4 and HKU5 and therefore considered to belong to the same species by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). At the recent World Health Assembly, WHO has urged scientific community to share information regarding the MERS-Coronavirus and patents on new strains f virus shouldn’t retard the combat against such virus.References: 1) Isolation of a Novel Coronavirus from a Man with Pneumonia in Saudi Arabia. Zaki et al. New England Journal of Medicine. October 2012. 2) Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV); Announcement of the Coronavirus Study Group. Groot et al. Journal of Virology. May, 2013. 3) http://abcnews. go. com/Health/fullpage/mers-coronavirus-infographic-abcnews-19315579 4) http://www. who. int/csr/don/2013_06_02_ncov/en/index. html

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