Specialist international health insurance intermediary, Medibroker, is warning expatriates and travelers about an increasingly prominent virus risk emerging in the Middle East.
MERS - Middle East Respiratory Syndrome - has infected 176 individuals since it first emerged in 2012, with over 40% of cases proving fatal. The virus causes similar symptoms to the SARS virus - fever, coughing and pneumonia. The majority of cases have been seen in Saudi Arabia but the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar have also had incidents.
Camels are thought to be possible carriers of the virus and the World Health Organisation is advising care when in the vicinity of these animals, especially in farms or barn areas. Meticulous personal hygiene is also recommended.
Scientists contributing to the journal Annals of Internal Medicine wrote recently: 'The concentration of vulnerable patients, the frequent movement of patients, and the many daily contacts make health-care facilities the perfect breeding ground for MERS-CoV transmission.'
'The Middle East is a popular destination for foreign workers with over 7.5 million expatriates in Saudi Arabia alone, according to some estimates.' said Medibroker CEO, Robin Pegg. 'Reports suggest the MERS virus is a serious threat and we are advising clients to take extra care when travelling to the region. For many expatriates excellent care will be available from their international health insurance but prevention is better than the cure in this case.'