Tracing The Cause of The MERS Epidemic

Medically reviewed by | By

Update Date 10/11/2020 . 3 mins read
Share now

Known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERS was a respiratory ailment that started in Saudi Arabia in 2012. What caused MERS?

Quite similar to COVID-19, among its known symptoms included shortness of breath, fever, cough, diarrhea, and nausea and in serious cases, kidney failure and pneumonia.

There were cases, however, where people had mild symptoms such as cough and colds and some others were asymptomatic, or showed no symptoms at all. 

The symptoms of MERS typically start to appear within 5 or 6 days of exposure and last for about 2 to fourteen days.

But what caused MERS? 

What caused MERS?

Because researchers believed that this virus came from animals, they tested goats, cows, sheep, water buffalo, swine, and wild birds, and found out that the virus was not in their system.

It was only when they tested on camels that they discovered where MERS came from.

Belonging to the coronavirus family, one of the viruses that may cause the common cold, MERS has been shown to infect not only humans but different animals such as camels and bats as well, specific to animals in Saudi Arabia. 

It has been said that from camels, the virus was usually passed on to humans but that remained unclear – even until now. 

In 2015, a man from Saudi Arabia died in the Philippines.

The cause of death was believed to be MERS. His death brought about contact tracing, which was mostly aimed at identifying the nurses and doctors who took care of the man while in hospitalization. 

There were other MERS patients outside Saudi Arabia. And it was found that all of them traveled to the Middle East.

Risk Factors

According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), about 3 out of 10 people diagnosed with MERS succumb to the condition.

Most of the people who died had weakened immune systems, or underlying conditions such as:

  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • chronic lung disease
  • chronic heart disease
  • chronic kidney disease

In response, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a bulletin that those who had the above ailments should avoid eating camel meat, avoid eating undercooked meat, and avoid interacting with camels. 

The rest of those at risk were:

  1. People who traveled from the Arabian Peninsula and have developed symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. They were advised to contact their health care providers. 
  2. People who were in close contacts with others who have traveled from the Arabian peninsula. Just the same, they were advised to visit their nearest doctor and health care provider for tests. 
  3. Closed contacts of a confirmed case. Those people in contact with a confirmed case were advised to go directly to a healthcare professional. 
  4. Healthcare professionals not using recommended protection and precautions. Doctors and nurses not wearing any protective gear and who had close contacts with confirmed cases were advised to isolate themselves and be looked after by other healthcare professionals as well.
  5. People with exposure to camels. Since camels were the main reason why there was a MERS COV in the first place, those who were in direct contact with these animals were advised to practice general hygiene measures such as washing of hands, and avoiding contact with sick animals. The World Health Organization even released a bulletin to advise those people visiting farms, barns or markets. 

Despite determining who was at risk, not all infected persons could be identified. Some cases were asymptomatic. It was only through testing that cases were confirmed. 

Key Takeaways

So what caused MERS? Animals, particularly camels and bats, were the ones responsible for transmitting this to humans. There is no vaccine for MERS.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Was this article helpful for you ?
happy unhappy

You might also like

Dentist Appointment: Is it Safe to Go to the Doctor Now?

Is it safe to go to the doctor now like your dentist during the pandemic? Check out the risks you need to consider before heading out.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao
COVID-19 25/09/2020 . 4 mins read

Can Face Shields and Masks with Valves Really Spread COVID-19?

Some people think that plastic face shields for COVID-19 are effective in reducing the spread of the virus. One visualization study reveals otherwise.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
COVID-19 15/09/2020 . 4 mins read

Here’s How to Avoid COVID-19 at Work

Now that more and more people are going back to their respective jobs, how are we going to avoid COVID infection at work?

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
COVID-19 09/09/2020 . 4 mins read

Coronavirus on Public Transportation – Guidelines to Follow

Before commuting, equip yourself first with these practices that will help reduce the risk of getting infected by the coronavirus on public transportation.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Infectious Diseases, COVID-19 31/08/2020 . 4 mins read

Recommended for you

causes of a shingles outbreak

What Are the Causes of a Shingles Outbreak?

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Jan Alwyn Batara
Published on 30/10/2020 . 3 mins read
virgin coconut oil against covid-19

Using Virgin Coconut Oil Against COVID-19? Here’s What Recent Studies Say

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Stephanie Nicole G. Nera
Published on 21/10/2020 . 4 mins read
what if my whole family has covid

What if My Whole Family Has COVID-19?

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao
Published on 02/10/2020 . 4 mins read
breastmilk and covid research

Breastmilk and COVID Research: Can Breastmilk Help “Kill” the COVID-19 Virus?

Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N.
Published on 30/09/2020 . 4 mins read