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Mers (middle East Respiratory Syndrome)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What is Middle East respiratory syndrome?
Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a respiratory illness caused by a viral infection. The virus that causes MERS is mostly found in Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. You may be at risk if you or someone close to you lives in or has traveled to these areas. You may also be at risk if you have been near camels with the virus. MERS may lead to severe, life-threatening problems if you have other health conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, or a weak immune system. If you have these health conditions, scientists recommend staying away from areas where the virus is present.
What are the signs and symptoms of MERS?
- Fever or chills
- Muscle aches
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
How is MERS diagnosed and treated?
Your healthcare provider will collect fluid from your nose, throat, or lungs and test it for the MERS virus. Medicines are given to treat the viral infection and reduce your symptoms.
How can I prevent the spread of MERS?
MERS is spread when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. People can become infected by breathing in the virus or getting the virus in their eyes. If you are sick, stay home or away from others until you are well. Follow the directions below to prevent the spread of the MERS virus:
- Limit close contact with others. If you are sick, stay in a different room, or sleep in a separate bed. Remind others to stay at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from you while you are sick. Open the windows to let fresh air into the room. Do not share towels, linens, eating utensils, or dishes without cleaning them first.
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Throw away tissues right after you use them. Wash your hands after you sneeze or cough. Wear a mask if you are sick.
- Wash your hands often. You and everyone in your home must wash your hands throughout the day. Use soap and water. Use germ-killing gel if soap and water are not available. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a diaper, or prepare and eat food. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have washed your hands first.
- Wear disposable gloves and a mask if you care for someone who is sick. Wash your hands after you take off your gloves and mask. Throw away the gloves after each use. Throw away your mask if it gets wet or comes in contact with fluids from the person you are caring for.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces often. Use household cleaner or bleach diluted with water to clean counters, doorknobs, toilet seats, and other surfaces.
When should I seek immediate care?
- You have trouble breathing or shortness of breath.
- You have a fast heartbeat and your chest hurts.
- Your lips, skin, or nails are blue.
- You feel dizzy, lightheaded, or faint.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
- You are coughing more, or your fever does not go away when your healthcare provider said it should.
- You think you came in contact with someone infected with the MERS virus.
- You have symptoms of MERS after you or someone close to you traveled to the Middle East.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.