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MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)

What is MERS?
What are the symptoms of MERS?
How is MERS spread?
How can I keep from getting MERS?
If I’ve been exposed to MERS, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
How do I know if I have MERS?
What treatments are available for MERS? How serious is the disease?
How many cases of MERS are reported each year?
Where can I get more information on MERS?

What is MERS?

MERS stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. It is an illness caused by a coronavirus called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Typically, MERS affects the respiratory system, including the lungs and breathing tubes.

What are the symptoms of MERS?

Symptoms include:

Some people with MERS may also have diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases, people with MERS may develop pneumonia and kidney failure.

How is MERS spread?

MERS spreads from contact with an infected person’s respiratory secretions, usually through coughing.

To date, the virus has also been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula. Most infected people either lived in the Arabian Peninsula or recently traveled from the Arabian Peninsula before they became ill; or they had close contact with an infected person who had recently traveled from the Arabian Peninsula. An outbreak in South Korea originated with a traveler from the Arabian Peninsula, and has spread within that country.

How can I keep from getting MERS?

To avoid MERS and other respiratory disease, take everyday precautions, including:

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs.

If I’ve been exposed to MERS, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?

People exposed to MERS usually develop symptoms within five to seven days after exposure, although it can take anywhere from 2 to 14 days.

How do I know if I have MERS?

MERS can be detected through laboratory tests of an infected person’s bodily fluids.

The risk of contracting MERS in the U.S. is very low; however, if you have respiratory symptoms and have either traveled in the last 14 days to a country where MERS has been found or have been exposed to someone who was ill with MERS in the last two weeks, please call your health care provider and let him/her know your travel history before seeking treatment.

What treatments are available for MERS? How serious is the disease?

Individuals with MERS can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, current treatment includes care to support vital organ functions

MERS is very serious. About three of out of every 10 people reported with MERS have died. However, most of the people who died had an underlying medical condition prior to becoming infected with MERS. Individuals with chronic diseases, like heart and kidney disease or diabetes and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for getting MERS or having a severe case.

How many cases of MERS are reported each year?

Only two cases of MERS have been reported in the U.S., both in May 2014 and in individuals who were exposed while traveling.

Worldwide, more than 1,000 cases of MERS have been reported, with most linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula.

Where can I get more information on MERS?
For more information, you can call the Health Department at 859.363.2070 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.