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Mers: Latest killer in a family of deadly viruses

Published on Apr 17, 2014 2:23 PM
Saudi medical staff leaving the emergency department at a hospital in the centre of the Saudi capital Riyadh on April 8, 2014. Two cases of Mers among health workers prompted the authorities to close the emergency department at the city's King Fahd Hospital. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

A Malaysian man from Johor who developed respiratory complications after returning from Mecca died on April 13, 2014, becoming the first person from Asia to die from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) coronavirus. Mers is the latest health scare to hog headlines as modern international travel has increased the speed in which viral diseases can spread across vast distances. We take a closer look at Mers and other recent viruses that have caused severe health problems and even death.

1) Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers)

As its name suggests, Mers was first detected in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and the Middle Eastern state is the worst-hit country, with more than 60 deaths so far. As of April 16, 2014, the World Health Organisation has recorded 238 cases of the disease and 92 deaths globally. 

Singapore has not seen any case of Mers, but the Ministry of Health said in a statement that "given today's globalised travel patterns, the possibility of an imported case here cannot be ruled out".

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