CAIRO – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has come to Egypt.
State television said Saturday that the country’s first case had been discovered. It said the patient, who was hospitalized in Cairo, had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, where the virus was first identified.
Saudi Arabia had announced hours earlier that the death toll in the kingdom had reached 92. In addition, an Indonesian man who had traveled to Saudi Arabia died Friday after returning home, and the virus has been found elsewhere in the Middle East, including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
MERS is a coronavirus similar to that which causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, discovered in Asia more than a decade ago. But the new virus is deadlier than SARS, killing about one in three of those who fall ill. Its hallmarks are flu-like symptoms including fever and coughing. Sometimes it develops into pneumonia.
Even before Saturday’s announcement, Egypt’s health ministry had said it was probable that MERS had spread to Egypt, because it had been found in a small sampling of camels. The animals are thought to be a vector of the virus.