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MERS Virus Doesn't Spread Easily: Study

Update Date: Aug 28, 2014 09:18 AM EDT

Patients infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus are unlikely to pass it to others easily, according to a new study.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus is confined to countries in the Middle East so far and has infected 837 people and claiming at least 291. 

"A lot of speculations have been made that MERS spreads significantly among family members and household contacts of active cases," said study lead researcher Dr. Ziad Memish, Saudi Arabia's assistant deputy minister of health for preventive medicine, in the press release. 

Researchers studied 26 patients with MERS along with their 280 household contacts. They found that 12 people among the 280 household contacts came down with MERS. 

The finding puts the odds of getting MERS from another person at about 5 percent. "It's reassuring that very low transmission takes place at home among family contacts, and the majority of transmission occurs at health-care facilities," Memish said.

In reality, 25 percent of MERS cases have been among health-care workers.

The study is published in the Aug. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. 

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