In September 2012, a case of novel coronavirus infection was reported involving a man in Saudi Arabia. This novel coronavirus has been named Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
“Despite sharing some clinical similarities with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) there are also some important differences such as the rapid progression to respiratory failure, up to five days earlier than SARS. In contrast to SARS, which was much more infectious and affected the healthier and the younger age group, MERS appears to be more deadly with 60% of patients with coexisting chronic illnesses dying,” explained Dr. Ziad Memish, deputy minister for public health from Saudi Arabia.
Globally, 701 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including at least 249 related deaths have officially been reported to WHO.
The high mortality rate with MERS is probably spurious because doctors are only picking up severe cases and missing a significant number of milder or asymptomatic cases.
Imaging findings in patients with MERS ranged from minimal to extensive abnormalities and were either unilateral or bilateral.
The most common CT finding in hospitalized patients with MERS-CoV infection is that of bilateral predominantly subpleural and basilar airspace changes, with more extensive ground-glass opacities than consolidation. The subpleural and peribronchovascular predilection of the abnormalities is suggestive of an organizing pneumonia pattern.
«Recognizing this pattern in acutely ill patients living in or traveling from endemic areas may help in the early diagnosis of MERS», Amr M. Ajlan and colleagues concluded in their study (American Journal of Roentgenology).
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