What is MERS?
A: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness. MERS is caused by a coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV).
What is MERS-CoV?
A: MERS-CoV is a beta coronavirus. It was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. MERS-CoV used to be called “novel coronavirus,” or “nCoV”. It is different from other coronaviruses that have been found in people before.
What are the symptoms of MERS?
A: Most people who got infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of them died. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness.
Does MERS-CoV spread from person to person?
A: MERS-CoV has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact. Transmission from infected patients to healthcare personnel has also been observed. Clusters of cases in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UK, France, Tunisia, and Italy are being investigated.
Is there a vaccine?
What are the treatments?
A: There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by MERS-CoV. Medical care is supportive and to help relieve symptoms.
Why Doctors Are Calling It a "Threat to the Entire World"
- Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization, called it "a threat to the entire world" in a speech given in Geneva Switzerland.
- The new virus has emerged quickly and worries health authorities because they are unable to fully determine its qualities, effective treatments, or even what the proper precautions to take against are.
- Health authorities are attempting to meet this threat but much of the critical information still remains unknown.
- Although its name suggests that it is limited to the Middle East, cases have been found in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Tunisia. The WHO suspects that these are from people who received the disease in the other countries it has been spotted in such as Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Should India be concerned ?
- The infection has now emerged as a serious cause for concern, especially in India, as thousands are set to travel to Saudi Arabia in the coming days for Umrah and Haj.
- Emerging evidence suggests Saudi Arabia as the apparent geographic hub of the novel corona virus.
- Given the potential for the MERS virus to spread from human to human through close contact and the scale of the international pilgrimage gathering during Umrah and Haj, India and Kerala in particular, is very much at risk of a potential public health emergency.