Since its discovery in 2012, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), a SARS-like corona virus, has terrified the world with its mysterious origins and high fatality rate. The virus, which centers mostly in Saudi Arabia, is back in the news after the first confirmed case was found inside the United States. The video above explains what the MERS virus is an dhow it operates.
Here is what you need to know:
1. The First Case Was Discovered in the United States
According to doctors, MERS does not spread easily, and most of those people who have contracted the illness in Europe have done so after traveling to the Middle East. On Wednesday, Doctors found the first case of MERS in the United States in Indiana. The CDC told NBC news that the infected patient was a healthcare worker who recently traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana.
The CDC said of the infected:
The patient then took a bus from Chicago to Indiana. On the 27th, the patient began to experience signs of illness, including shortness of breath and coughing. The patient went to an emergency department on April 28th. Because of the patient’s symptoms and travel history, Indiana public health officials had him tested for MERS.
2. It’s Infected At Least 250 People and Killed 93
By the WHO’s most recent updates, there have been at least 250 confirmed infections across the globe, and 93 deaths. However, Saudi Arabia has reported 371 cases and 107 from the illness within their own country.
3. The WHO Called MERS a “Threat to the Whole World”
— WHO (@WHO) May 27, 2013
At a May 27, 2013 speech in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan called the emerging MERS corona virus a “threat to the whole world.” Addressing the World Health Assembly, Chan said:
Looking at the overall world health situation, my greatest concern right now is the novel coronavirus. We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat. Any new disease that is emerging faster than our understanding is never under control.
We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these question, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond.
The novel coronavirus is not a problem that any single affected country can keep to itself or manage all by itself. The novel coronavirus is a threat to the entire world. As the Chair of committee A succinctly stated: this virus is something that can kill us.
You can read the full speech at the WHO’s website.
4. The Virus Is From Saudi Arabia & May Be From Camels
The MERS outbreak has been centered around Saudi Arabia with most of the of the international infections occurring after trips to that region. Until recently, scientists had little knowledge of what caused the illness, but recently, increasing amounts of evidence emerged linking camels to the outbreak.
5. Symptoms are the Same as the Common Cold But Harder To Spread
— WHO (@WHO) May 23, 2013
According to the WHO the initial symptoms are similar to the common cold, especially cough, fever, and shortness of breath. The WHO has warned all countries to be on the lookout for unusually acute and severe respiratory infections, which is how the virus manifests itself. Although, unlike the common cold, the MERS virus is said to be rather difficult to spread from person to person.