The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has become an epidemic affecting many people, most recently, in Korea.
MERS is an illness caused by a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). MERS affects the respiratory system (lungs and breathing tubes).
Health officials first reported the disease in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. 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 of any age.
In order for us to protect ourselves, it is important to be armed with the information necessary to understand what it’s about and more essentially, to protect ourselves with the knowledge about the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these are the symptoms to look out for:
Most people confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection have had severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- shortness of breath
Some patients who are affected by MERS have also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea and nausea/vomiting. For many cases of patients with MERS, other severe complications followed, such as pneumonia and kidney failure. About 3-4 out of every 10 people reported with MERS have died. However, most of the people who died also had an underlying medical condition. Some infected patients with mild symptoms (such as cold-like symptoms) or no symptoms at all of MERS have recovered.
Based on information to date, 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 it can also range from 2-14 days.
The World Health Organisation has got a good infographic which explains the virus in basic terms and what to look out for. Keep alert and if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, please go to your doctor or hospital to get checked out immediately.