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Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness that has a very short history in terms of scientific understanding and research. The first report of a MERS case was 2012, in Saudi Arabia. Middle East respiratory syndrome is the result of a virus specifically named—coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Coronaviruses are a type of virus that is classified within the subfamily coronavirinae in the family coronaviridae. While coronaviruses are routine viruses that may produce cold-type symptoms, and are experienced by many people annually, Middle East respiratory syndrome can be significantly more severe in some cases. So as Middle East respiratory syndrome may produce only mild cold symptoms in some, others could experience dangerous conditions such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or worse.

Fortunately, Middle East respiratory syndrome is not often seen in the US, with only two patients testing positive for the illness. In both cases, patients had lived in Saudi Arabia. Researchers believe camels could be the originating source of the illness but more research is needed to confirm this theory.

Symptoms of MERS

As with most virus-caused conditions, the symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient. Some of the more commonly seen symptoms are listed below. It is important to remember, if you feel that you are experiencing any symptoms, whether listed below or not, that could potentially be MERS, see your doctor right away. Wear protective covering over your mouth if you feel you might be infected so as not to spread the illness to others.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Symptoms

  • Cold Type Symptoms
  • Severe Respiratory Problems
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting
  • Kidney Failure

IMPORTANT NOTE: While MERS can, in some cases, be no more bothersome than a common cold, still—it can be deadly. Many people have died from MERS, so if you think you could have been exposed you need to seek medical treatment immediately.

How Does MERS Spread?

Coughing is probably the predominant means for MERS to spread from one person to another. However, it is important to note that it may be spread in ways yet unknown to researchers.

Tips to Lower Your Risk

  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid all close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Disinfect frequently used surfaces that have a lot of common contact.
  • "It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."

    Clair C. | West Hollywood, CA