Did you know that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012? MERS is a viral infection caused by a coronavirus, called MERS-CoV. The virus is quite similar to the coronavirus that caused the outbreak of SARS in 2003. Since 2012, 27 countries have reported cases of MERS-CoV.
Normal coronaviruses are common around the world and cause mild fever and sore throat, which subside on their own. However, there are complications caused by them in older people with a heart condition or lung infection.
Being a hot Middle Eastern country with high consumption of cold fluids, sore throats, runny noses and throat infections are quite common in Saudi Arabia. That is the reason why many of the symptoms of MERS go unnoticed in the initial stages of the illness. Up until the end of 2015, the number of people detected with MERS in Saudi Arabia was around 1,200, causing a huge health concern in the country.
The symptoms of MERS start to appear within 10 days of being infected with the virus. The initial sickness may be mild but it is important to know that the infection can lead to severe respiratory issues. Symptoms of MERS include:
- Shortness of breath
- Diarrhea and vomiting in some cases
Research is still being conducted to determine the exact cause of transmission. However, the likely medium of transmission is the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through personal contact, like touching, shaking hands, etc.
Chances of the infection spreading also include touching a contaminated object and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
The main aim of the treatment is to prevent further complications caused by the virus. Treatment also includes relieving the symptoms of the illness. Using fever medication as recommended by your physician, getting enough rest and consuming plenty of fluids are all part of the recovery process.
Like many other infections, MERS can also be prevented by taking precautionary measures, such as:
- Washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using hand sanitizer with an alcohol base.
- Covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Stopping yourself from touching your nose, mouth and eyes as much as possible, especially while outdoors.
- Avoiding physical contact with anyone who is already sick.
- Disinfecting floors, doorknobs, counter tops, etc, on a regular basis.
It is better to be a little cautious, rather than suffering from MERS and in case if you still do encounter the symptoms, especially throat infection, it is better to consult a doctor as soon as possible.