Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

An Overview of MERS

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a viral respiratory illness in Saudi Arabia in 2012 now known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. MERS is caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV. A coronavirus causes upper-respiratory tract illness. Most people will contract a coronavirus throughout their lifetime, usually in childhood. The name “coronavirus” comes from the crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus. Specifically, the MERS illness includes symptoms such as fever, coughing, and shortness of breath and approximately thirty percent of people who have contracted the illness died but there were often times underlying causes. So far, the only areas affected by this infection are in or near the Arabian Peninsula and MERS is spread by close contact with another person. The incubation period for MERS is between two to fourteen hours.



Where did MERS first appear?

While there is no clear answer to this question the CDC believes that MERS first came from an animal source because the virus has been found in camels in countries like Qatar, Oman, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and in a bat in Saudi Arabia.


Do I have MERS?

Common symptoms of MERS include a cough, fever and shortness of breath as stated above, but in addition, some people have problems with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea and severe symptoms consist of pneumonia and kidney failure. As far as researchers know, people with previous medical complications or a weakened immune system are more likely to be infected by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Some of these previous medical complications include; diabetes, cancer, chronic lung, heart, and kidney disease.

How do I protect myself?

Everyday preventative measures work best when protecting oneself against MERS according to the CDC. Washing your hands with soap and water, cover your nose and mouth when you cough, avoid close personal contact like kissing, sharing cups or utensils with those who are sick. Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and be sure to clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched.

Hand Washing

I am interested in MERS because it is an infection that is in a certain location affecting a specific community. As a community health major, my dream job would be to work for an international aid organization and travel overseas to work as a community health server working to prevent illness and disease in other countries. I am often times surprised by the amount of people who lack awareness on issues such as MERS. I had never heard about MERS until I was researching information on the Middle East for a class assignment. Have you heard of MERS before and if so what have you heard about it?


CDC-MERS-About MERS. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/MERS/about/index.html

Community Health Services. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ohio.edu/chsp/sph/academics/chs.cfm


One thought on “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

  1. I’m a health and public advocacy communication major, so I find this topic really interesting as well! The WebMD-like approach to this article is perfect because people can easily understand, medically, what to expect. How quickly does MERS spread? It sounds similar to some of the drastic cases of pneumonia that break out every fall and winter in the U.S. Great info!

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