Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Information

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is a viral respiratory infection which is also commonly known as camel flu. It is caused by a betacoronavirus known as MERS- corona virus (MERS-CoV). Symptoms of this disease may include cough, diarrhea, fever, and shortness of breath which could range from mild to severe. This particular disease tends to be severe in people with other health or medical problems. Beta corona virus in itself is derived from bats.

Camels are wildly believed to be the involved in the transmission and spread of the disease to humans but the method has not been clear to researchers. However, camels have shown to have great anti bodies to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome corona virus but how camels get infected have not yet been identified. It is important to understand that spread between humans usually requires being in close contact with an infected person. However, its spread is not very common outside the hospital environment making the risk of spread to the global population fairly low.

As with this kind of virus, there is still no specific vaccine for the treatment of this disease as at 2015 though researchers are studying a number of anti viral vaccines. Presently, it is recommended by the World Health Organization that people who come in contact with camels ensure they wash their hands frequently and also avoid touching sick camels. They also recommend thoroughly cooking of camels before consumption by humans. These are quick prevention mechanism to contain its spread. Additional preventive steps advised by the Center for Disease Control in the United States of America include avoiding close contact with sick people, avoiding washing the nose, eyes, mouth with unwashed hands and frequently disinfecting touched surfaces.

Symptoms and Complications

In the initial stages of arrival of these disease, the reports compared the virus to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) However, Majority of people who have been diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome have heard severe respiratory acute illness exhibiting symptoms such as cough, high fever and shortness of breath. In fact, the review done for the 47 confirmed laboratory cases in Saudi Arabia presented the symptoms as being cough in 83%, fever in 98% and short slightness in 72% of people.

There were also reported cases of diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pains in some people. For severe complications, pneumonia and kidney failure were reported. With the information available currently, the incubation period for MERS which include the time in which a person is exposed to MERS-CoV and when the symptoms manifest is usually between 5 to 6 days but can range between 2 to 14 days in some cases.


World Health Organization specifies that a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome suspect is confirmed infected with a positive lab test by a molecular diagnostic which includes either a positive PCR on at least two specific genomic targets or a single positive target with sequencing on a second. Both the World Health Organization and Centre for Disease Control recommend the use of manifested symptoms and travel history in investigating any person suspected to be infested with MERS. Tools such as radiology and laboratory testing as also part of phases of investigation employed to ascertain the infection of MERS on humans.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome South Korea


Unfortunately, the current mechanism of spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is not yet known. However, there have been prior corona viruses like SARS and based on past experiences, the World Health Organization currently recommends that all individual who have come into contact with MERS suspect must in addition to standard precautions wear eye protection such as face shields or goggle, wear medical mask, always perform hand hygiene when in contact or after a contact with the person and his surroundings.

Hygiene must also be performed when removing the personal protective equipment (PPE). When performing some procedures which carry a risk of aerosolization, such as intubation. It is recommended that care givers or providers wear a special kind of respirator, wear a non sterile, clean long sleeve gown and gloves, wear an apron that is impermeable and try to limit the number of persons in the room to minimum.

The current outbreak of the virus in Korea and China is showing signs of containment with only 33 deaths recorded so far. With the effort of WHO, the current outbreak will be contained like the past outbreak like SARS.

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