KARACHI - Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a new deadly virus which spreads from camels and bats to humans, have become the next threat for Pakistan, as overseas Pakistanis may spread the disease in the country, The Nation is informed.

“After resurfacing of various deadly viruses in Pakistan including dengue, Bird Flu, Mad Cow, Congo and Naegleria Fowleri, another fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus is to dominate the country. 

Scientists have taken blood samples from Pakistani caretakers of camels and their camels for investigations and surveillance.

Thousands of Pakistanis work and live in the Middle East may bring the virus traveling back to the country. This virus is a serious respiratory disease which could spread very fast from person to person.

This disease is majorly found in countries in the Middle East including Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Government is required to take notice of this upcoming threat to protect the people in the country.”

These views were expressed by renowned Pakistani scientist, and former Pro-Vice Chancellor Karachi University, Prof Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi while taking to The Nation on Monday.  She said that this virus may be unknown to this part of the world but World Health Organization now warns that the MERS-CoV virus is a "world threat."     

Dr Kazmi, who is currently working at Dean Research and Postgraduate Studies at Jinnah University for Women, said that as of 2nd May 2014, MERS-CoV cases have been reported in several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, the Philippines, and the United States.

“The official WHO MERS count is 238, with 92 deaths as of 27 Apr 2014 there are 339 confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia, with 102 deaths. On 2nd May 2014 the first case in the USA of MERS-CoV was reported in Indiana.

Most people who got infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of them died. Transmission from infected patients to healthcare personnel has also been observed. In addition to humans, MERS-CoV has been found in camels in Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and a bat in Saudi Arabia. Camels in a few other countries have also tested positive for antibodies to MERS-CoV,” she said. She said, “WHO recommends raising awareness of MERS among travelers going to and travelling from MERS-affected countries otherwise does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does WHO currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.”