538 MERS Cases in 18 Countries

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May 12, 2014 – Lebanon has recorded its first case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) as the US Center for Disease Control announced on Monday that it is investigating a second case in Florida.

The amount of new infections has more than doubled in the past month with the majority of new cases in Saudi Arabia where 290 new infections have been diagnosed since late March.

MERS can cause severe respiratory illness and has a fatality rate of about 30 percent.

It originated in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread to Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Yemen in the Middle East; Egypt and Tunisia in Africa; France, Germany, Greece, Italy and the UK in Europe; Malaysia and the Philippines in Asia; and the United States in North America.

All cases outside of the Middle East are among individuals who recently travelled to the region. Camels are suspected as the primary source of infection for humans with the World Health Organization reporting that the case from Yemen had no recent history of travel outside of Yemen, but had made weekly visits to a camel farm where he reported drinking fresh camel milk.

The majority of cases are in men, 65 percent, and the median age for infection is 49.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz