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  • What is MERS and is it going to kill me?

  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, is a viral respiratory illness that is relatively new to humans.

  • It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and is commonly localized to the Arabian Peninsula,

  • however, it has since spread to several other countries, including the United States, France, and most recently South Korea.

  • MERS, like SARS, is a coronavirus that typically presents as a cold and upper respiratory infection,

  • including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. MERS is dangerous because it is more severe than a common cold

  • and can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms and kidney failure.

  • As with all infections, children, seniors, and people with compromised immune systems

  • or pre-existing medical conditions are more likely to contract MERS.

  • Unfortunately, this list includes mostly the type of people found in hospitals,

  • making hospitalization in an area experiencing an outbreak of MERS a huge risk factor for infection.

  • Other risk factors include direct interaction with an infected person, travel to the Arabian Peninsula or interaction with a camel. Yep, camel.

  • Based on information from the US Center for Disease Control, the incubation period

  • or time between exposure to MERS and the appearance of symptoms, is usually about 5 to 6 days,

  • but can be anywhere from 2-14 days. Patient zero in the recent South Korea outbreak

  • was a man who traveled to countries in the Middle East and did not exhibit any symptoms on his return flight to Korea.

  • He became sick about a week later.

  • MERS is not thought to be easily transmitted between humans, and that's why the extent of the South Korean outbreak,

  • with three deaths and the number of people in quarantine at 1600 and climbing, is confusing to scientists.

  • Actually, scientists are confused by a lot more than that, because we don’t actually know how the disease spreads.

  • SARS, its sister disease, is communicated via virus-laden droplets from a coughs or sneezes

  • but it is possible that MERS is airborne like measles which can linger in rooms for hours.

  • To date, there have only been three reported cases of MERS in the US,

  • but worldwide, MERS has a mortality rate of 30%, which is pretty scary!

  • But if youre a healthy adult who washes their hands frequently, and actively avoids contact with sick people and camels.

  • And just be safe if youre planning any trips to South Korea or the Arabian Peninsula in the near future.

  • What scary disease are you most concerned about? Let us know in the comments down below,

  • and check out this video by Anthony to find out more about the nature of viruses.

What is MERS and is it going to kill me?

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Should You Be Worried About MERS?

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    SHEU posted on 2015/06/07
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