Spain reports first case of Middle East virus

PHOTO: Spain reports first case of Middle East virus

MADRID - Spain's Health Ministry reported the country's first case of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus on Wednesday in a woman recently arrived from a trip to Saudi Arabia.

The virus has already been reported in four other European countries, the ministry said.

The latest patient, resident in Spain and born in Morocco, was checked in to a Madrid hospital on November 1 and is in a stable condition, posing no risk to public health, the ministry's statement said.

There have been 150 confirmed cases of the MERS virus worldwide, with 125 in Saudi Arabia. In Europe, two cases have been reported in Britain, two in Germany, one in France and another in Italy, the ministry said.

The virus, which is from the same family as the one that caused a deadly outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002, is thought to have originated in bats.

One study published in August found strong evidence that it is widespread among dromedary camels in the Middle East.

(Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)