Update 5/12/14 - A second case of the MERS virus has been confirmed in a patient in Florida. The patient was also a healthcare worker.
There is a new deadly virus that has been spreading in several countries around the world. The MERS Virus - Middle East Respiratory Syndrome first came to the attention of the medical community in 2012, with the first cases being reported in Saudi Arabia. MERS is a viral respiratory illness that has been fatal to approximately 30% of the people who get this virus. The symptoms of this virus are fever, cough and shortness of breath. These symptoms are similar to the symptoms you would have with a normal respiratory infection, but this particular virus strain has been deadly, mostly in the Arabian Peninsula. The Center for Disease Control has listed the countries that have been affected by the MERS virus thus far.
Countries in the Arabian Peninsula with Cases
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Countries with Travel-associated Cases
United Kingdom (UK)
United States of America (USA)
The United States reported their first case of the MERS virus on May 2, 2014. A man who is a healthcare worker in Indiana was diagnosed with the MERS virus. The man apparently had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, and upon his return to the United States, started exhibiting symptoms of the virus. Medial testing confirmed the diagnosis of the MERS virus. The man is reported to be recovering from the virus and improving every day. The medical staff that came in contact with the man have been placed in full isolation and are being tested to make sure they have not been infected with the virus. It can take up to 14 days for MERS symptoms to surface.
The Center for Disease Control is concerned about this virus spreading because it can be spread by person to person contact such as when people live with and care for people who are infected with the virus. The CDC says you are not considered at risk for the MERS virus unless you have been in close contact with someone infected with the virus.
The CDC has provided testing kits to health departments around the United States to help them prepare for the possibility of additional cases in the future. The best thing we can do is to be aware of the MERS virus and do what we can to protect ourselves from contracting it. According to the CDC, some things you can do to protect yourself are:
1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact, such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils, with sick people.
4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.
The CDC said they hope to have more information regarding the MERS virus in coming days and months. In the meantime, share this information with friends and family so that they can be aware of the MERS virus and take proper precautions.