MERS Outbreak: 5 Facts You Need to Know to Protect Yourself

The MERS outbreak — which stems from a dangerous respiratory virus — has now spread to a dozen countries across the globe, including the United States of America. Although there is a lot of information that is not known about MERS, there are some facts that would be helpful for you to know to protect yourself and your family from the MERS outbreak.

1. What exactly is MERS?

MERS is a respiratory virus that presents some of the same kinds of symptoms that you see with a cold — shortness of breath, fever, and cough. However, the mortality rate for people who contract MERS is much higher than for those who simply have a cold. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 30% of people who have been exposed to the MERS outbreak have died.

2. How does MERS spread?

The MERS outbreaks also seems to spread in much the same way that a common cold is spread. It simply requires close contact to spread. There have also been reported cases of infected patients passing MERS along to healthcare professionals. The CDC also has reported there are clusters of the MERS outbreak in some countries.

3. Where does MERS come from?

The CDC does not yet know the source of the MERS outbreak, though it has said that it is likely from an animal source. The disease stems from the Middle East and has been found in camels in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar. It also has been found in a bat in Saudi Arabia. Camels in some other countries also have been stricken with MERS, but the CDC is not prepared to say that camels are the source of the virus.

4. Are you at risk for contracting MERS?

Probably not. You are not considered to be at risk of of the MERS outbreak unless you have been in extremely close proximity with somebody who has MERS. This means that you would have had to live with or care for somebody who has MERS. Having said that, there are still many unknowns about the MERS outbreak that cannot be explained.

5. How do I minimize the risk of contracting MERS?

Make sure you wash your hands often with soap and water and make sure you help children do the same. Make sure you cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and throw away the tissue in the trash. Also, avoiding close contact with sick people will help prevent the spread of MERS. This includes kissing, sharing cups, and eating utensils. Doing these things will minimize the risk of spreading the MERS outbreak.

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