What is MERS?

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MERS stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. This refers to a severe disease of the respiratory system which is similar to pneumonia. Basically, the term pneumonia refers to the swelling of the air sacs in the lungs due to an infection. When a person is affected by pneumonia, the lungs become fluid-filled and negatively affects the process of transferring oxygen into the blood.

This health condition is caused by a type of virus called the coronavirus. Some kinds of coronaviruses cause common colds, but the MERS coronavirus is a fairly new type that was detected in 2012. As the name suggests, MERS was discovered in the Middle East.

The manner by which this disease spreads has not yet been fully established. However, specialists subscribe to the belief that the primary way by which it spreads is through close contact with a person infected by the virus.

Unlike SARS, MERS does not seem to spread easily. Some of the most common symptoms that an infected person may experience include high fever, cough, diarrhea, and breathing difficulties. In some cases, a person infected with MERS may suffer from kidney failure. It has also been found that people who currently have medical problems run a higher risk of acquiring a severe type of this respiratory disease.

MERS can be diagnosed through a physical examination conducted by a physician. Swollen glands, the condition of the lungs, and the presence of fever will be the primary factors that will be checked by the doctor. Some of the imaging tests which can be performed to check for fluid buildup in the lungs include chest X-rays, MRI scans, and CT scans. Additionally, a sample of the patient’s phlegm may also be obtained and tested in a laboratory, in order to determine the exact type of virus that causes the symptoms. Currently, there are no vaccines and treatment options for this infection, but the symptoms can be relieved.

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