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Concept.png MERS Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), also known as camel flu, is a viral respiratory infection caused by the MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV).[1]

Symptoms may range from mild to severe. They include fever, cough, diarrhea and shortness of breath. Disease is typically more severe in those with other health problems. Mortality is about one-third of diagnosed cases.

MERS-CoV is a betacoronavirus derived from bats. Camels have been shown to have antibodies to MERS-CoV but the exact source of infection in camels has not been identified. Camels are believed to be involved in its spread to humans but it is unclear how. Spread between humans typically requires close contact with an infected person. Its spread is uncommon outside of hospitals. Thus, its risk to the global population is currently deemed to be fairly low.[2]

As of 2020 there is no specific vaccine or treatment for the disease; a number of antiviral medications were being studied. The World Health Organization recommends that those who come in contact with camels wash their hands frequently and do not touch sick camels and that camel-based food products be appropriately cooked. Treatments that help with the symptoms may be given to those infected.

Just under 2000 cases have been reported as of 4 April 2017. About 36% of those who are diagnosed with the disease die from it. The overall risk of death may be lower as those with mild symptoms may be undiagnosed. The first identified case occurred in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and most cases have occurred in the Arabian Peninsula. A strain of MERS-CoV known as HCoV-EMC/2012 found in the first infected person in London in 2012 was found to have a 100% match to Egyptian tomb bats. A large outbreak occurred in South Korea in 2015. A further outbreak of MERS was reported in 2018, affecting Saudi Arabia and other countries (including South Korea) to which infected persons travelled, but from the years 2015–18, the number infected in Saudi Arabia in 2018 was the lowest.[3]


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