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Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus MERS CoV : Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS CoV) is a respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus. This disease is transmitted from camels to humans, as well as humans to humans.

MERS CoV allegedly originally came from camels that live in Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Yemen. Although MERS CoV also occurs in several countries in Europe and America, sufferers are known to have this disease after traveling to Middle Eastern countries. Therefore, this disease is often called Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome.

Although MERS CoV is contagious, the transmission is not as easy as the common cold. MERS CoV is more susceptible to the transmission through direct contact, for example in people who care for MERS sufferers without implementing proper self-protection procedures against viruses.

Symptoms of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

Symptoms of MERS CoV generally appear 1-2 weeks after the patient is infected with the virus. Some of the symptoms that arise are:

In rare cases, MERS CoV can also cause symptoms of bloody cough, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea.

When to see a doctor

Most cases of MERS CoV occur in Saudi Arabia and Middle Eastern countries. Check with your doctor if you have just returned from these countries and experience symptoms of respiratory problems.

Some MERS CoV sufferers only experience mild symptoms such as flu symptoms. However, a doctor's examination is still necessary if the symptoms appear after you return from a country that has a case of MERS CoV infection.

Causes of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

MERS CoV is caused by a coronavirus, a group of viruses that causes coughs in colds and acute respiratory infections (ARI). Besides infecting humans, MERS CoV can also infect animals, especially camels. Some factors that can increase a person's risk of contracting MERS CoV are:

  • Be near MERS CoV sufferers, especially for the elderly, people with weak immune systems, and medical workers who care for MERS CoV sufferers.
  • You just returned from Saudi Arabia or the surrounding countries and experienced symptoms of respiratory distress.
  • Contact with camels infected with this virus, including drinking milk and eating meat that is not thoroughly cooked.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Diagnosis

Alleged MERS is generally thought of if there is a history of traveling to the Middle East region within 2 weeks before symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, and fever appear. To ensure the presence or absence of MERS, the patient will be isolated, then the doctor will take a blood sample to check whether there are antibodies against MERS.

Also, other tests that can be done are X-rays to see the condition of the lungs, and blood gas analysis to see the level of oxygen in the blood.

Complications of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

MERS CoV which is classified as severe is very dangerous, it can even cause death. It is known that 30-40% of MERS CoV sufferers die, especially sufferers who also have immune system disorders, such as diabetics or cancer.

Complications that can occur in patients with MERS CoV are:

Treatment and Prevention of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

Until now, there has been no method or vaccine to treat and prevent MERS CoV. For patients with mild symptoms, the doctor will prescribe medication to relieve fever and pain. The doctor will also advise patients to rest at home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to prevent the spread of the virus.

For patients who experience severe symptoms, intensive treatment is needed at the hospital. The patient will be given oxygen, antibiotics, and infusions. If necessary, the doctor will monitor the function of organs intensively and pair the breathing apparatus.

Although there is no vaccine to prevent MERS CoV, the risk of contracting this virus can be reduced by taking the following steps:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating or before touching your face. If there is no soap, use a hand sanitizer.
  • Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and sterilize objects that are often touched by many people, such as door handles.
  • Avoid contact with someone who is sick, including sharing cutlery.

Don't make contact with camels who are sick, and don't also eat meat and drink milk.



  1. World Health Organizations (2019). Newsroom. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). A-Z Index. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
  3. Arabi, et al. (2017). Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. The New England Journal of Medicine.

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Health and clinical interests include all aspects of infectious diseases