A serious new respiratory virus with a high mortality rate may have the potential to be transmitted by air, according to a study conducted by researchers from King Fahd Medical Research Center in Saudi Arabia and published in the journal mBio last summer. This would elevate the virus to a much greater public health concern, since airborne viruses such as the flu spread much more quickly and easily than viruses requiring some form of contact (such as colds) or viruses that cannot cross between human beings at all,

but can only be acquired from animals (such as currently known forms of “bird flu”). The virus in question, known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS), was first identified in 2012. Since then, according to the World Health Organization, there have been 836 laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease, of these, at least 288 (34.5 percent) contributed to the patient’s death. READ MORE