Middle East Respiratory Syndrome


Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus — the same family of viruses that causes the common cold — called MERS-CoV. MERS-CoV was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then, it’s been reported in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and the United States. Most cases outside of the Middle East have been reported by people who recently traveled there.

MERS-CoV, like other coronaviruses, is thought to spread from an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as through coughing. However, the exact ways the virus spreads are not currently well understood. MERS-CoV infection causes fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Pneumonia is common, and sometimes it may cause injury to organs, such as the kidneys. Some people only have mild symptoms.

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