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MERS: Everything You Need to Know

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus MERS-coV. The virus was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then, MERS has spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East. In May 2014, the first and second U.S. cases of MERS were confirmed.

MERS is very dangerous and has extreme health risks. So far, there have been over 500 reported cases and 145 deaths. Those who are infected with MERS have a 30 percent chance of death.

Before you lock yourself in your apartment, there are some important details you should know about MERS.

Where did this illness come from?

Since MERS is a coronavirus, it is capable of infecting both humans and animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists and researchers don't know for certain where the virus came from, but they believe it is linked to an animal source.

How is MERS spread?

Unlike a common cold, MERS is spread from direct contact with an infected person. For example, if someone sneezes and you happen to be right next to him and a little saliva sprays onto your face, that can cause you to become infected.

What are the symptoms of MERS?

Those who have been infected with MERS developed mild to severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, muscle aches, cough and shortness of breath.

How can you prevent yourself and your loved ones from contracting MERS?

It is not recommended that you cancel your travel plans, but rather take precaution. Wash your hands frequently and use a separate hand towel if someone in your household is ill. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose without washing your hands first. It's also important to clean frequently touched surfaces like counter tops and doorknobs.

What else do you need to know about MERS?

Dr. Mike discusses what the MERS virus is, what symptoms to look out for and ways to prevent the MERS virus from getting to you and your family.