What is MERS?

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Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus or MERS is a viral respiratory ailment that strikingly resembles pneumonia. All the reported cases have been linked to travel or residing in and around the Arabian Peninsula.

The exact origin of MERS-CoV is still unknown, but it probably started in an animal. The virus has been found in camels and a bat. At the present, there is no available cure and has been fatal in some instances.

What are the indications?

The usual symptoms of MERS include the following:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
    MERS is a flu-like ailment with signs and symptoms of pneumonia.

Some of the associated symptoms might include:

  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Malaise
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

MERS is a flu-like ailment with signs and symptoms of pneumonia. The early reports described the symptoms the same as SARS.

Many individuals with MERS might have a mild respiratory ailment or no symptoms at all. Others will end up with severe respiratory distress and require hospitalization so that mechanical ventilation can be started.

What are the risk factors?

Certain individuals are at high risk for MERS-CoV infection such as:

  • Elderly and young children
  • Individuals with chronic ailments such as heart conditions, diabetes and chronic lung disease
  • Organ transplant recipients under immunosuppressive medications
  • Individuals with weakened immune system such as cancer patients undergoing treatment


There is no specific treatment or vaccination available for the infection. Luckily, supportive medical care can help alleviate the symptoms and minimize the risk for any complications.

Measures to lower the risk include the following:

  • Regularly wash hands using water and soap
  • Avoid eating undercooked meat or food prepared under unhygienic conditions
  • Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before eating
  • Reduce close exposure to others if they develop an acute respiratory ailment with fever including using a medical mask, sneezing using a tissue and disposing properly or sneezing into a sleeve or flexed elbow
  • Seek immediate medical care if an acute respiratory ailment develops with fever within 14 days of returning from travel

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on MERS is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage respiratory ailments, register for a first aid and CPR course with one of our training providers.


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