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MERS FAQ: What You Need to Know – WebMD

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MERS FAQ: What You Need to Know – WebMD

The First U.S. Case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Has Been Diagnosed

WebMD Health News

May 5, 2014 — The deadly respiratory virus known as MERS is now in the U.S.

The virus, which first surfaced in Saudi Arabia in 2012, has mostly been found in the Middle East. It is a close cousin of the deadly SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus that infected more than 8,000 people worldwide in 2003, killing 774. Unlike SARS, MERS does not appear to spread that easily from person to person.

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about MERS.

What is MERS?

MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome, is an illness caused by a virus called a coronavirus. It is also sometimes referred to as MERS-CoV, for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus. It is in the same family as the SARS virus.

Coronaviruses are common globally, the CDC says. Five different types can make people sick. They also infect animals.

Although some coronaviruses cause mild to moderate upper respiratory illness, MERS, like SARS, can cause severe illness and death.

What are the symptoms of MERS?

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

How common is MERS?

To date, 401 cases of MERS have been confirmed in 12 countries, the CDC reported Friday. Of those, 93 people have died.

How is it treated?

There is no cure for MERS. But doctors can treat the patient’s symptoms.

How is MERS spread? How contagious is it?

Officials say it most often spreads between people who are in close contact. Infected patients, for instance, have spread the virus to health care workers. The virus does not appear to spread easily among people in public settings, such as a shopping mall.

Anne Schuchat, MD, director of National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said the infected U.S. man is “a very low risk” to the general public.

Where has it been found?

In addition to Saudi Arabia, five countries have laboratory-confirmed MERS cases, the CDC says. These are:

  • United Arab Emirates
  • Qatar
  • Oman
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait

Plus, six countries have travel-associated cases. These people traveled to the six countries where MERS is found. These countries are:

  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Tunisia
  • Italy
  • Malaysia
  • U.S.

Where did this virus come from?

Public health officials believe it came from an animal source but are still doing research. The virus has been found in camels in Qatar, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. It’s also been found in a bat in Saudi Arabia. But officials can’t say for sure if camels are the source of the virus. For now, they say that camels, bats, and other animals may play a role in where the virus comes from and how it spreads.  

Is there a vaccine?

No vaccine is available. The CDC is talking about creating one.

Health – Google News

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