Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a newly discovered coronavirus that causes respiratory illness in both people and animals. Unlike most coronaviruses which only cause mild to moderate upper respiratory tract infections, confirmed causes of MERS have led to sever acute respiratory diseases.
MERS spreads from person to person through close contact, such as caring for or living with someone infected with the virus. There is no evidence of sustained spread between communities such as workplaces settings, public settings, or airplanes.
Most cases of MERS have occurred on the Arabian Peninsula, and MERS is considered to be a very low risk to the general public in the United States. Only two cases of MERS have been confirmed in the United States, one in Indiana, and the other in Florida. Both patients that contracted MERS were health care workers who traveled from Saudi Arabia; there was no link between the two cases.
Individuals meeting these specific characteristics are considered at risk for MERS:
– Close contact with a confirmed or probable case of MERS while the affected person is ill.
– Traveled from countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula in the past 14 days.
The CDC recommends that travelers to these countries take everyday precautions against spreading germs, including:
– Washing hands often with soap and water.
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
– Avoid close contact with a known MERS patient.
– Proper vaccination.
Image Source: wikimedia.org