• MERS is caused by a novel coronavirus (MERS-CoV). It affects the respiratory system. So far, about 4 out of every 10 patients diagnosed with MERS have died. Countries of and in close proximity to the Arabian Peninsula are the most affected.
• MERS-CoV was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia.
• First classified in the mid 1960s, the human coronavirus subgroups are referred to as alpha, beta, gamma and delta.
There are currently six coronaviruses that can affect humans which include:
• Human coronavirus 229E
• Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63, New Haven coronavirus)
• Human coronavirus OC43
• Human coronavirus HKU1
• Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
• Fever, body pain, sore throat (early symptoms)
• Chills (Doctors describe it as flu-like illness with signs and symptoms of pneumonia)
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Gastrointestinal symptoms (less common)
• Renal (kidney) failure
Who is at risk
• People with chronic lung disease, diabetes and heart conditions
• The elderly
• Organ transplant recipients who are on immunosuppressive medications
• People with weak immune systems, such as cancer patients undergoing treatment
There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment recommended for MERS-CoV infection. Those affected with the illness are advised to seek medical care to help relieve the symptoms