Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome or MERS was initially thought to have emerged from Saudi Arabia in September of 2012. However, the CDC reports that retrospective analysis trace the coronavirus to Jordan in April of 2012.
MERS as the Ebola Virus is zoonotic. (Both came from animals) In the case of MERS, researchers believe that the virus originated from the middle eastern hump camel(Dromedary). However, as CNN's Dr. Gupta noted we are not yet sure how the virus was transferred to humans.
Dromedary is the name for one-hump camels. These one-hump camels are common to Africa and the Middle East. Initially, they were exported to the four corner of the earth. Today, in Australia and North America, the camel is used an dependable labor animal. Dromedary camels are much more common than two hump camels and much less common than camel cigarettes reports Hatch report.
Thus far, the World Health Organization (WHO) believes that there have been 1,179 cases of MERS, in 25 countries, through June 2015. Of those 1,179 cases, 442 people died! That translates to 3-4 people out 10 dying from MERS.
Many Facebook/Linkedin/Twitter readers are wondering what exactly is MERS and should they be concerned? First off, MERS is a respiratory condition characterized by fever, cough, and experiencing shortness of breath. MERS typically affects those with weaken immune systems and spreads from close contact with an ill person, such as living with or caring for them, according to the CDC. Being that it can present as many other respiratory conditions such as the common cold, flu, or pneumonia. Therefore, medical personnel should be cognizant to inquire about recent travel to the middle east or ask about caring for someone that has had similar symptoms and travel history. MERS symptoms develop approximately five days after becoming infected, but may begin as early as 2 days and as late as 10-14 days. The treatment consists of rest, fluids, and supportive care. Currently, there is no cure or vaccine for MERS.
Recently, the internet has been abuzz with the reports of MERS spreading through South Korea. Allegedly a businessman traveling through the middle east acquired the disease. He returned to South Korea and subsequently infected 20 people in three hospitals before doctors figured out that he was sick with MERS reports Yahoo Health. On Monday, South Korea reported its sixth death, an 80 y/o male, from MERS. This death brings the total confirmed mortality to 87 people. Fear of others becoming infected with MERS has lead the government to quarantine over 2500 civilians and close over 1,500 schools/university, according to CNN.