What is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)?

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What is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)? Blog Image


The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently confirmed a case of the potentially fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Abu Dhabi.

About Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS):


  • MERS is a viral respiratory disease caused by the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Coronavirus disease-2019.
  • MERS Symptoms:
    • Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
    • Pneumonia is common but not always present.
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported.
  • Fatality Rate: Approximately 35% of MERS cases reported to WHO have died.
  • Prevention and Treatment:
    • No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available.
    • Treatment is supportive and based on the patient’s clinical condition.


What is MERS‐CoV?

  • It is a zoonotic virus, meaning it is transmitted between animals and people, and it is contractable through direct or indirect contact with infected animals.
  • The origins of the virus are not fully understood but, according to the analysis of different virus genomes, it is believed that it originated in bats and was transmitted to camels sometime in the distant past.
  • Human-to-human transmission: The virus does not appear to pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, such as providing unprotected care to an infected patient.


Q1) What are the characteristics of a virus?

Viruses are small, infectious agents that can replicate only inside the cells of living organisms. They are not considered living organisms because they do not have their own metabolism or cellular structure. They are made up of a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protein coat.

Source: Abu Dhabi reports new MERS-coronavirus case, says WHO. Details