Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory infection caused by Middle East respiratory syndrome–related coronavirus (MERS-CoV).[1] Symptoms may range from none, to mild, to severe.[6][1] Typical symptoms include fever, cough, diarrhea, and shortness of breath.[1] The disease is typically more severe in those with other health problems.[1][6]

Quick facts: Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Spec...
Middle East respiratory syndrome
MERS-CoV virions
SpecialtyInfectious disease
SymptomsFever, cough, shortness of breath[1]
Usual onset2 to 14 days post exposure[2]
CausesMERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV)[1]
Risk factorsContact with camels and camel products[1]
Diagnostic methodrRT-PCR testing[4]
PreventionHand washing, avoiding contact with camels and camel products[5]
TreatmentSymptomatic and supportive[1]
Prognosis34.4% risk of death (all countries)
Frequency2578 cases (as of October 2021)[3]

The first case was identified in June 2012 by Egyptian physician Ali Mohamed Zaki at the Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and most cases have occurred in the Arabian Peninsula.[1][6] Over 2,500 cases have been reported as of January 2021, including 45 cases in the year 2020.[3] About 35% of those who are diagnosed with the disease die from it.[1] Larger outbreaks have occurred in South Korea in 2015 and in Saudi Arabia in 2018.[7][1]

MERS-CoV is a coronavirus believed to be originally from bats.[1] However, humans are typically infected from camels, either during direct contact or indirectly.[1] Spread between humans typically requires close contact with an infected person.[1] Its spread is uncommon outside of hospitals.[6] Thus, its risk to the global population is currently deemed to be fairly low.[6] Diagnosis is by rRT-PCR testing of blood and respiratory samples.[4]

As of 2021, there is no specific vaccine or treatment for the disease,[2] but a number are being developed.[1] The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that those who come in contact with camels wash their hands and not touch sick camels.[1] They also recommend that camel-based food products be appropriately cooked.[1] Treatments that help with the symptoms and support body functioning may be used.[1]

Previous infection with MERS can confer cross-reactive immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and provide partial protection against COVID-19.[8] However, co-infection with SARS-CoV-2 and MERS is possible and could lead to a recombination event.[9]

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