Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, also referred to as MERS-CoV, is a novel coronavirus that emerged in April 2012 in Saudi Arabia. The coronavirus causes severe repertory illness in humans in which nearly half of the reported cases have been fatal. Middle East Respiratory MERS-CoV has “also been shown to infect a range of human, primate, porcine, and bat cell lines” (Emergence of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). The coronavirus was first discovered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at the Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, when a patient with severe respiratory disease was failing to respond to any treatment or experience any sign of recovery. A sample of the sputum obtained by Dr. Ali Zaki was used to identify the virus. The virus found was unlike anything seen before. Dr. Ron Fouchier, at Erasmus Medical College in Rotterdam, Netherlands, identified the virus as a novel coronavirus, later called Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has been identified in several Middle Eastern countries, and Europe; however, initial infection is found in Saudi Arabica, Qatar, Jordan and The United Emirates. Cases have been reported in the United Kingdom, Tunisia, France, Italy, Germany and the United States. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 2 cases have been reported in France and 1 death, 1 non-fatal case in Italy, 2 fatal-cases in Jordan, 6 cases in which only half were fatal in Qatar, 121 cases and 51 deaths in Saudi Arabia, 3 cases and 1 death in the United Kingdom, 6 cases and 2 deaths in the United Arab Emirates, and 2 non-fatal cases in the United States. “As of May 2014, people who had contracted the virus had either recently returned from the Middle East, or had been in close contact with other confirmed or suspected cases” (More MERS sources found). Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has a very broad host range structure. Its genome is similar to other coronaviruses, for two thirds of the 5’ of the genome encode non-structural proteins that are needed for viral genome replication. The 3’ one third of genome codes for structural genes that make the structure of the virion (spike, envelope, membrane and nucleocapsid proteins) and four accessory genes interspersed between the gene regions. The receptor for MERS-CoV is dippeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4). The receptor has been identified by “ mass spectrometry analysis of HUH 7 necessary for infection of a non-permissive cell line. DPP4 is important for glucose homeostasis, T-Cell activation, neurotransmitter function, and modulation of cardiac signaling…. MERS- CoV is shown to modulate the innate immune response, antigen representation, inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and apoptosis pathway” (Emergence of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). (Headlines MERS and MERS vaccine)
The mode of transportation of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is still unclear and being investigated. Researchers from the Saudi ministry of Health (MOH) have been working with Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the University of Edinburgh and College London (UCL) to sequence the virus in order to determine how it is transmitted from one individual to another. The study, having one of the largest number MERS-CoV genomes identified to date, concludes that MERS-CoV has diverse transmission patterns: “We deep-sequenced the genomes of MERS-CoV taken from 21 infected people to accurately calculate the rate of evolution of the virus,” said Dr. Matthew Cotten of the Sanger Institute who is also the study’s first author. “We could define genetically plausible transmission pairs using this evolution rate. However, the genetic evidence we gathered could only support eight of the 13 transmission events that were predicted from the epidemiology” (More MERS sources found). Because of the complicated nature of human...
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