What is MERS; Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is an illness caused by a virus, which affects the respiratory system (lungs and breathing tubes). (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus (CoV). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
illness and symptoms: Most people confirmed to have MERS-CoV (coronaviruses) infection have had severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of: fever, cough and shortness of breath. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, have also been reported. Severe illness can cause respiratory failure that requires mechanical ventilation and support in an intensive‐care unit. Some patients have had organ failure, especially of the kidneys, or septic shock. The virus appears to cause more severe disease in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with such chronic diseases as diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. About 3-4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died.
Where did it start?: Health officials first reported the disease in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. Through retrospective investigations, health officials later identified that the first known cases of MERS occurred in Jordan in April 2012. So far, all cases of MERS have been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula.
What is being done: CDC continues to closely monitor the MERS situation globally and work with partners to better understand the risks of this virus, including the source, how it spreads, and how infections might be prevented. CDC recognizes the potential for MERS-CoV to spread further and cause more cases globally and in the U.S. We have provided information for travelers and are working with health departments, hospitals, and other partners to prepare for this.
How can such disease be contacted: MERS-CoV has spread from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. MERS can affect anyone. MERS patients have ranged in age from younger than 1 to 99 years old. Based on information, the incubation period for MERS (time between when a person is exposed to MERS-CoV and when they start to have symptoms) is usually about 5 or 6 days, but can range from 2-14 days.
MERS-CoV, like other coronaviruses, is thought to spread from an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as through coughing. However, the precise ways the virus spreads are not currently well understood. the disease can be contracted through camels,
Additional cases: Based on what researchers know so far, people with pre-existing medical conditions (also called comorbidities) may be more likely to become infected with MERS-CoV, or have a severe case. Pre-existing conditions from reported cases for which we have information have included diabetes; cancer; and chronic lung, heart, and kidney disease. Individuals with weakened immune systems are also at higher risk for getting MERS or having a severe case.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent MERS-CoV infection. The U.S. National Institutes of Health is exploring the possibility of developing one.
Infected countries?: The following 25 countries have reported cases of MERS: Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen (Middle East); Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom (UK) (Europe); Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt (Africa); China, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and the Philippines (Asia); and the United States of America (Americas).The vast majority of these cases have so far occurred in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
CDC routinely advises that people help protect themselves from respiratory illnesses by taking everyday preventive actions:
- 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.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid personal contact, such as kissing, or sharing cups or eating utensils, with sick people.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs.
Since May 2015, the Republic of Korea has been investigating an outbreak of MERS. It is the largest known outbreak of MERS outside the Arabian Peninsula.
sources from CDC and GAR.