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Britain is Ready for MERS Virus, Says Public Health Body

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a deadly yet only recently discovered virus believed to be transmitted to humans from camels has made landfall in Europe again, but Public Health England (PHE) says precautions are in place to deal with the infection should it spread.

First diagnosed in the United Kingdom by government research scientists in 2012, the vast majority of MERS cases are found in the Middle East where communities have contact with the Arabian camel. After the death of a man from MERS in Germany and the government’s Chief Medical Officer declaring South Korea a MERS zone, both yesterday, Public Health England have told Breitbart London the country is ready to deal with MERS should it come again.

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MERS has killed 19 people in South Korea where there has been a limited outbreak. Over 90% of cases are reported in the Middle East

So far there have been four cases of MERS in the United Kingdom, all in 2012-13, when the virus was first discovered. Two were original infections contracted in the Middle East and then diagnosed when the carrier had arrived in the United Kingdom. Concerningly, the other two were secondary infections – passed from human to human while in the UK. Of the four diagnoses made in this country so far, three died – a 75 per cent mortality rate.

Public Health England have instructed travellers, particularly those with underlying or chronic medical conditions, to avoid camels in the Middle East, and has put out a flash alert to healthcare professionals warning about the virus. MERS has a similar incubation period to the Ebola virus and can consequently easily cross borders undetected, and PHE have told Breitbart London suspected cases will be put into quarantine, and fellow passengers on shared flights will also be screened for the virus.

Britain may be especially vulnerable to the MERS virus because of the high population of Muslims in the country who may over the course of their lives make pilgrimage to the Middle East. An official government document on MERS makes reference to those who make Hajj or Umrah, Arabic terms denoting the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. There is presently no screening for MERS on flights from the Middle East to Europe.

Follow Oliver Lane on Twitter: or e-mail to: olane@breitbart.com

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