South Korea Mers outbreak: Man in Slovakia tested

A South Korean man suspected of contracting Mers is admitted to hospital in Slovakia Image copyright AFP
Image caption The South Korean man is being treated at a hospital in Bratislava

A hospital in Slovakia is testing a South Korean man for the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).

If confirmed, it would be the first case in Europe since an outbreak in South Korea began.

Authorities there have reported seven new cases, bring the total to 145. Fourteen people are known to have died.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the outbreak is "large and complex" with further cases expected.

The man in Slovakia reportedly works for a subcontractor of South Korean car maker Kia.

Image copyright AP
Image caption New cases continue to be reported in South Korea
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Body heat scanners are being used to test for the virus in South Korea

He is said to be in a stable condition, and tests should determine if he has the virus within a day.

The outbreak began when a businessman returning from the Middle East last month was diagnosed with the disease.

All of the cases have been linked to health facilities. The WHO said overcrowding and South Korea's habit of "doctor shopping" - visiting multiple facilities for the same complaint - may have contributed to the outbreak.

But despite the organisation's warnings, it says there is no evidence of Mers spreading wider in the community.

The outbreak is the largest outside Saudi Arabia, where the disease was first identified in humans in 2012.

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Media captionMers virus explained in 60 seconds

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers)

  • Mers is caused by a coronavirus, a type of virus which includes the common cold and Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
  • First cases emerged in the Middle East in 2012, and the first death in Saudi Arabia in June that year.
  • It is not known for certain how it is transmitted. It is possible the virus is spread in droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Patients have a fever, cough and breathing difficulties, but Mers can also cause pneumonia and kidney failure.
  • Approximately 36% of reported patients with Mers have died - there is no vaccine or specific treatment.

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