Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)


MERS, a newly discovered respiratory disease, was recently reported in the Arabian region. It is caused by a virus similar to that causing common cold and other respiratory illnesses.

MERS is the short form for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a disease that can cause symptoms like those of pneumonia, along with severe shortness of breath. The disease is caused by a virus, called MERS-coronavirus or MERS-CoV.

The disease was first reported on September 24, 2012, by Egyptian virologist Dr. Ali Mohamed Zaki in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This virus was previously called “novel coronavirus” and has been identified in multiple countries since 2012. The disease is more prevalent in residents or travelers to certain Middle East countries or their close contacts.

MERS-coronavirus, a new variant of coronavirus, is the cause of this respiratory distress disease. The virus is suspected to have originated in bats and camels.


The spread of MERS is not completely understood, but it is believed to spread through close contact with an infected person, like living with, caring for or direct contact with body fluids or respiratory secretions. Unlike SARS, which spreads quickly, MERS spread is only through close contact.

Patients with MERS may develop mild to severe respiratory distress along with fever and cough. A polymerase chain reaction test is available for the diagnosis of the condition. Treatment is usually symptomatic.

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