Health | Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:40pm IST

Egypt discovers first case of potentially deadly MERS virus

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt has discovered its first case of the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in an Egyptian citizen who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia, Egypt's Ministry of Health said on Saturday.

The virus, which can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia, has spread from the Gulf to Europe and has already caused over 90 deaths.

The patient, 27, is being treated for pneumonia at a Cairo hospital and is in a stable condition, the ministry said in a statement.

The man, who is from the Nile Delta, was living in the Saudi capital Riyadh, the ministry said.

Saudi Arabia, which has been hardest-hit by the MERS virus, announced on Friday it had discovered 14 more cases in the kingdom, bringing the total number to 313.

Although the number of MERS infections worldwide is fairly small, the more than 40 percent death rate among confirmed cases and the spread of the virus beyond the Middle East is keeping scientists and public health officials on alert.

A spokesman for the World Health Organisation in Geneva said on Friday it was "concerned" about the rising MERS numbers in Saudi Arabia urging for a speedy scientific breakthrough about the virus and its route of infection.

Saudi authorities have invited five leading international vaccine makers to collaborate with them in developing a MERS vaccine, but virology experts argue that this makes little sense in public health terms.

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh and Mahmoud Mourad, Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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