Health

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

The Middle East respiratory syndrome is caused by a virus called MERS-CoV, also known as EMC/2012. This coronavirus infects humans, camels, and bats. However, it is not yet known whether or not it can cause illness in people. The disease is a sign of a larger problem. The symptoms and treatment are similar to those for other types of viral infections.

In the United States

There have been two confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection. These cases occurred in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Netherlands. The risk for people living in the United States is very low. But, the disease is still a real concern. The CDC has advised that travelers avoid these countries until more information is available. The virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through unprotected contact with infected people or animals.

Symptoms

The disease is characterized by cough, diarrhea, and shortness of breath, but is not pneumonia. Symptoms of MERS-CoV are not immediately detectable, but are consistent with cold-like symptoms. The virus is spread through close contact, so a healthcare provider should obtain detailed travel histories from patients with acute respiratory illness. It is important to understand that MERS-CoV is not specific to the Arabian Peninsula.

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