TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's official news agency is reporting the Islamic Republic has suffered its first fatality from the Middle Eastern respiratory virus.

The IRNA news agency's report Thursday quoted Health Ministry official Mohammad Mahdi Gouya as saying the virus has killed a 53-year-old woman in Kerman, a city in southeastern Iran. An Iranian newspaper reported two cases there Wednesday.

It remains unclear how they contracted the virus and authorities have given no further details about the infections.

MERS is part of the coronavirus family of viruses, which includes the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. MERS can cause symptoms including fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure.

The virus, first reported in Saudi Arabia, has seen cases spread across the world since its discovery two years ago.