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 threaten the lives of sufferers.

MERS is thought to have originated from camels that lived 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 develop 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 to people who care for sufferers of MERS without properly implementing self-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
  • Swab Antigen  ( 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  cold coughs and acute respiratory infections (ARI). MERS is included in zoonotic diseases , namely diseases 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 workers who treat MERS patients
  • Recently returned from Saudi Arabia or a nearby country, and experiencing respiratory symptoms
  • Contact with camels infected with this virus, including drinking  unpasteurized camel milk and eating meat that is not thoroughly 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
  • shivers
  • 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 see a doctor

Most cases of MERS occurred 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 only experience mild flu-like  symptoms . However, it is still necessary to see 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 coming into contact with a MERS sufferer. The doctor will also ask if the patient has recently traveled to Saudi Arabia or a nearby country.

To ascertain 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

Treatment of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Until now, there is no method or vaccine to treat and prevent MERS. For patients with mild symptoms, the doctor 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 is required at the hospital, including by administering 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 .

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Complications

MERS which is classified as severe 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 diabetes or cancer.

Some of the complications that can occur in sufferers of MERS are:

  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory 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
  • Cleaning and disinfecting items that people touch frequently, such as doorknobs
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick, including sharing cutlery

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

  • Undergo a medical examination before performing the pilgrimage
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and running water, especially after visiting animal markets or camel rearing grounds
  • Avoid contact with sick animals
  • Avoid eating animal meat that is not cooked thoroughly, and unpasteurized camel milk
  • Be careful in choosing food sold on the roadside
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