Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a respiratory disease caused by the Corona virus . MERS can be asymptomatic, or cause mild to severe symptoms. In severe cases, MERS can even be life-threatening.

MERS is thought to have originated from camels that live in Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Yemen. Although MERS also occurs in several countries in Europe and America, sufferers are known to have contracted this disease after traveling to Middle Eastern countries.

MERS, also known as Middle East respiratory syndrome, is an infectious disease. However, transmission is not as easy as the common cold. MERS is more susceptible to transmission through direct contact, for example in people who care for MERS sufferers without proper personal protection procedures .

Please note, MERS and COVID-19 are two different conditions but have similar symptoms. Therefore, if you experience symptoms of MERS, see a doctor immediately to confirm the condition. Click the link below so you can be directed to the nearest health facility:

  • Antibody Rapid Test
  • Antigen Swab  ( Rapid Test Antigen )
  • PCR

Causes of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

MERS is caused by a coronavirus, which is a group of viruses that cause  coughs and colds and acute respiratory infections (ARI). MERS is a zoonotic disease , which is a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans.

Several factors that can increase a person's risk of contracting MERS are:

  • Being near MERS sufferers, especially for the elderly, people with weak immune systems, and medical personnel who treat MERS patients
  • Just returned from Saudi Arabia or surrounding countries, and experiencing symptoms of respiratory problems
  • Contact with camels infected with this virus, including drinking  unpasteurized camel milk and eating meat that is not fully cooked

Symptoms of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Symptoms of MERS generally appear 1-2 weeks after the patient is infected with the virus. Some of the symptoms that arise are:

  • Cough
  • Shivering
  • Fever
  • Have a cold
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach ache
  • Muscle ache
  • Hard to breathe

In rare cases, MERS can also cause symptoms of  coughing up blood , nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea.

When to go to the doctor

Most MERS cases occur in Saudi Arabia and Middle Eastern countries. Check with your doctor if you have just returned from these countries and experience respiratory symptoms for more than 14 days.

Some people with MERS experience only mild flu -like symptoms  . However, it is still necessary to check with a doctor if these symptoms appear after you return from a country that has cases of MERS infection.

Diagnosis of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

The doctor will ask about the symptoms experienced by the patient and the possibility of the patient being in contact with someone with MERS. The doctor will also ask if the patient has recently traveled to Saudi Arabia or any surrounding country.

To determine whether the patient's body contains the virus that causes MERS, the doctor will carry out supporting examinations, such as:

  • Throat swab test
  • blood test
  • Stool sample examination
  • Sputum sample test
  • Chest X-ray

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Treatment

To date, there is no method or vaccine to treat and prevent MERS. For patients with mild symptoms, doctors will prescribe fever and pain relievers. Doctors will also advise patients to rest at home and avoid contact with other people to prevent the spread of the virus.

For patients with severe symptoms, intensive treatment in the hospital is required, including the administration of fluid infusions. In addition, the doctor will monitor the function of the body's organs intensively and attach  a breathing apparatus .

If the patient's condition is bad, the doctor will also give drugs to increase blood pressure (vasopressors), such as norepinephrine .

Complications of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Severe MERS is very dangerous, it can even cause death. It is known that 30-40% of MERS sufferers die, especially in patients who have weak immune systems, such as people with diabetes or cancer.

Some of the complications that can occur in people with MERS are:

  • Pneumonia
  • Breathing failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Septic  shock

Prevention of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Although there is no vaccine to prevent MERS, the risk of transmitting this virus can be reduced by taking the following steps:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water, especially before eating or touching your face
  • Clean hands with hand sanitizer if there is no water
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, then throw the used tissue in the trash
  • Clean and sterilize objects that are frequently touched by many people, such as doorknobs
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick, including sharing eating utensils

For pilgrims or tourists who go to countries in the Middle East, the ways to prevent MERS that can be done are as follows:

  • Undergo a health check before performing Hajj
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water, especially after visiting the animal market or camel farm
  • Avoid contact with sick animals
  • Avoid eating uncooked animal meat, and unpasteurized camel milk
  • Be careful in choosing food sold on the roadside
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