MERS Coronavirus : Everything You Should Know

Thursday August 10, 2023 at 10:24 pm

MERS Coronavirus, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is a viral respiratory disease initially found in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It’s a zoonotic virus, easily transmitted between animals and humans, likely from bats and camels. With a 35% fatality rate, it spreads through close contact. Unlike COVID-19, MERS-CoV hasn’t led to extensive global outbreaks and has similarities to the European bat coronavirus. Reported cases span 27 countries, including the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, the United States, and Asia.


MERS Coronavirus exhibits a wide spectrum of symptoms, ranging from asymptomatic cases to severe acute respiratory illness and even death. The most common symptoms appear within 2 to 14 days, including fever with a body temperature above 37 degrees Celsius, difficulty breathing leading to respiratory distress, persistent cough, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue. In severe cases, the virus can progress to pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), posing a life-threatening risk. Prompt medical attention is crucial for individuals experiencing worsening symptoms or with potential exposure to the virus. Until more research is promptly done, people with diabetes, lung cancer, and low immunity are at an elevated risk of developing severe complications when affected by the virus.


The MERS Coronavirus can be transmitted from animals to humans, but infected people can also spread it. The virus spreads through three main modes of transmission:

Zoonotic Transmission: It is commonly believed that the virus originated from bats and can be transmitted to humans through direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels. When humans come into contact with camels, they can contract the virus through exposure to respiratory secretions, body fluids, or contaminated surfaces.

Person-to-Person Transmission: Infected individuals can also spread MERS Coronavirus to others. The virus can be transmitted through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Close contact with an infected person, especially within households or healthcare settings, increases the risk of transmission.

Healthcare-Associated Transmission: MERS Coronavirus outbreaks have occurred in healthcare facilities. Infected patients can transmit the virus to healthcare professionals or other patients through respiratory secretions or contaminated surfaces. Inadequate infection control practices in healthcare settings can spread the virus further.

COVID 19 vs MERS Coronavirus

COVID-19 and MERS Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) are respiratory illnesses caused by distinct coronaviruses, each with unique characteristics. COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, first identified in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. On the other hand, MERS-CoV, identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, is responsible for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

The mode of transmission differs between the two viruses. COVID-19 spreads easily through respiratory droplets, mainly via close contact with infected individuals. In contrast, MERS-CoV also spreads from person to person but is not as highly contagious as COVID-19. According to current understanding, the primary method of MERS transmission is from animals, particularly dromedary camels, to humans.

In terms of severity, COVID-19 can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe respiratory illness, and some individuals may not exhibit any symptoms (asymptomatic carriers). Severe cases of COVID-19 can lead to complications like pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and even death. Conversely, MERS-CoV has a higher fatality rate, estimated to be around 35%. Severe cases of MERS often result in pneumonia and respiratory failure.


Currently, no specific medical treatment is available for MERS Coronavirus, but research and development are ongoing. If you often go to farms, barns, or local markets, practicing good hygiene, like washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with sick animals, is important. Eating raw animal products, like meat and milk, can put you at risk of getting sick from diseases they may carry. Properly cooking and pasteurizing animal products are essential, and they should be stored separately to prevent cross-contamination with cooked food.

Preventive Measures

Preventive measures for MERS Coronavirus can significantly reduce the risk of transmission and help limit its spread. Here are some key steps to consider:
Hand Hygiene: Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Alternatively, use a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol content, especially after touching surfaces in public areas or coming into contact with others.

Respiratory Etiquette: Always cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, preferably with a tissue or elbow. Carry a handkerchief to practice proper respiratory hygiene when visiting farms or public places.

Mask Usage: Whenever you visit farms, barns, or other public places, wearing a mask is essential to reduce the spread of MERS Coronavirus. Masks help prevent respiratory droplets from reaching others and protect you from inhaling particles.

Avoid Frequent Touch: Refrain from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Additionally, avoid personal contact like kissing, touching, or sharing utensils with individuals who may be infected.

Stay Up-to-Date: Regularly follow health guidelines issued by reputable health authorities. Be aware of updates on MERS Coronavirus and adhere to advice from experts and healthcare professionals.

By implementing these preventive measures and maintaining personal hygiene practices, you can play an active role in reducing the risk of spreading MERS Coronavirus and promoting the well-being of yourself and others.

Needless to say, MERS Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a potent reminder of the ongoing threat of emerging infectious diseases. Since its first identification in Saudi Arabia in 2012, MERS-CoV has continued to raise concerns due to its severe respiratory illness and high fatality rate. While it has not caused widespread global outbreaks like COVID-19, MERS-CoV remains a significant public health concern, particularly in the Middle East.
Preventive measures play a crucial role in reducing the risk of MERS-CoV transmission. Regular handwashing, respiratory etiquette, wearing masks, and avoiding close contact with infected individuals are essential practices to mitigate the spread of the virus. Additionally, measures such as proper handling and cooking of animal products, especially from camels, are vital in preventing zoonotic transmission.
The absence of a specific vaccine for MERS-CoV underscores the need for ongoing research and global preparedness. Healthcare professionals, public health authorities, and international organizations must continue monitoring the virus, improving diagnostic capabilities, and strengthening surveillance efforts to identify and control outbreaks swiftly.
In the face of constantly evolving infectious diseases, increasing public awareness, combating misinformation, and promoting international collaboration to protect global health is crucial. This will be essential in managing the impact of emerging threats such as MERS-CoV.

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