Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness.
MERS-CoV is the acronym for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
Coronavirus, the virus that causes MERS. When referring to the virus and not the illness, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses this acronym. When referring to the illness, CDC uses MERS. The virus was first
reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia when a virology specialist, Dr. Ali Mohammed Zaki, discovered it on a 60 year old patient.
MERS-CoV, like other coronaviruses, is thought to spread from an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as through coughing. However, the precise ways by which the virus spreads are not currently well understood.
MERS-CoV has spread from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. Infected people have spread MERS-CoV to others in healthcare settings, such as hospitals. Researchers studying MERS have not seen any ongoing spreading of MERS-CoV in the community.
All reported cases have been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula. Most infected people either lived in the Arabian Peninsula or recently traveled from the Arabian Peninsula before they became ill. A few people became infected with MERS-CoV after having close contact with an infected person who had recently traveled from the Arabian Peninsula.
The MERS-Cov is currently spreading in South Korea. This, in combination with the fact that coronaviruses can often mutate, is leading to increased fears it could become a pandemic.
SYMPTOMS and Complications:
The most common signs and symptoms of MERS are:
- Fever 100 degrees F or higher
- Breathing difficulties
- Chest pain
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Malaise - a general feeling of being unwell
- Runny nose
- Renal (kidney) failure
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO (World Health Organization), there are no specific treatments for patients who become ill with MERS-CoV infection.
All doctors could currently do is provide supportive medical care to help
relieve the symptoms. Supportive care means providing treatment to prevent, control, or relieve complications and side effects, as well as attempting to improve the patient's comfort and quality of life. Supportive care (supportive therapy) does not include treating or improving the illness/condition.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent MERS-CoV infection. CDC
routinely advises that people help protect themselves from respiratory
illnesses by taking everyday preventive actions:
1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an
alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash bin.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
4. Avoid personal contact, such as kissing, or sharing cups or
utensils, with sick people.
5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs.
Total cases confirmed by the World Health
No. of cases Fatality rate
As of June 30, 2015, there are 181 Confirmed cases reported in South Korea and China. 180 in South Korea and 1 in China. 32 of the 181 cases already resulted in death.