All the Information Known About COVID-19 Thus Far

How Is It Spread? MERS is also a zoonotic virus. As per the studies, humans have been infected with MERS through indirect and direct contact with… Trista - January 31, 2020
It was spread through contact with infected camels. Shutterstock.

How Is It Spread?

MERS is also a zoonotic virus. As per the studies, humans have been infected with MERS through indirect and direct contact with the infected dromedary camels. The presence of this virus has been recognized in camels in various countries in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. How the virus originated remains a mystery. However, as per the analysis of multiple virus genomes, the disease may have originated in bats and somehow transmitted to camels, which are immune to MERS-CoV.

One of the symptoms of MERS is diarrhea, so stay hydrated. Shutterstock.

Symptoms of MERS 

The symptoms of MERS infection range from mild respiratory symptoms to severe respiratory diseases, which may cause death. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, diarrhea, and fever. Pneumonia is likely to be present, but its presence is not necessary for the infection to take hold. Severe illness may lead to respiratory failure, which requires support in an ICU (intensive care unit) and mechanical ventilation. The virus seems to induce severe diseases in older people, individuals with weak immunity, and people with chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, renal disease, and chronic lung disease. 


MERS is a severe disease as its fatality rate is 35%, meaning one out of three people with MERS will not survive. However, mild cases of this infection may not be noted by available medical testing. Until more is discovered about MERS, the fatality rate is counted only by the lab-confirmed circumstances.

The transmission of the disease was localized because there were low transmission rates between humans. Shutterstock.

Transmission of MERS

It is not fully understood how the disease can be transmitted from camels to humans. However, dromedary camels remain an animal source of the infection in humans. The strains of this virus that are identical to the human strains have been taken from dromedaries in different countries, including Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.Unless there is close contact, MERS-CoV does not transfer from one person to another, such as offering unprotected care to the infected patient. So, there has been a spread of cases in the healthcare facilities in the absence of adequate and appropriate control practices. The human transmission of MERS-CoV has been limited to family members, health care workers, and patients.


Since 2012, 26 nations have reports MERS cases including Yemen, the U.S.A., the U.K., United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Tunisia, Thailand, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, Qatar, Philippines, Oman, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, Italy, Islamic Republic of Iran, Greece, Germany, France, Egypt, Bahrain, Austria, and Algeria. However, 80% of MERS cases have been registered by Saudi Arabia. Cases reported outside of the Middle East are generally traveling individuals who were infected by MERS-CoV in the Middle East and then went to other countries. 

Samples are taken from the respiratory tract to determine the presence of the virus. Shutterstock.

Diagnosis of MERS

The diagnosis of MERS includes the doctor examining the patient and asking about any symptoms they may be having. The doctor will ask about recent activities, especially travel. Then, samples from the respiratory tract (RT) of the patient will be taken for assessment. RT-PCR testing (Polymerase Chain Reaction Testing) can affirm the presence of the virus. If the test is not positive even after 28 days after the onset of symptoms, the doctor rules out the possibility of MERS. A blood test can determine whether or not a person has been infected previously and is identified by MERS antibodies present in the blood.

Washing your hands after you’ve been outside can minimize your chances of becoming sick. Shutterstock.

Prevention of MERS

The mechanism of spreading MERS is currently unknown. So, the only way to prevent it is to isolate it. Because of that, it is imperative to wash your hands frequently. Do not touch your face with unclean hands and avoid undercooked meat. Minimize close contact with those who are showing symptoms, such as fever, with acute respiratory illness. You can wear medical masks and isolate yourself from people who may have the disease.


Washing the items that a patient uses with soap and hot water is vital. Seek immediate medical help if you experience fever and respiratory illness within two weeks of your return from travel. Avoid direct contact with raw camel milk, urine, and meat. Practice proper hygiene if you visit farms, barns, markets, or places where dromedary camels are present. 

You have to take an active role in protecting your health. Shutterstock.

The Bottom Line About the Respiratory Illness in Hong Kong

Even though we have come a long way in terms of medicine, there is a lot to be discovered. This new virus, 2019-nCoV, as well as other coronaviruses, proves that we do not have answers to everything. The medicine for the mysterious coronavirus will be developed in a year or more than them even after such technological advancements. To prevent the outbreak, it is necessary to isolate patients completely and conduct strict screenings at airports, bus stations, railway stations, and other public places. 


Additionally, while handling the cases of this mysterious coronavirus, medical professionals need to take proper care to prevent them from spreading. So far, the coronavirus that was recently identified in China has taken over 200 lives and infected close to 8,500 people, with the numbers steadily increasing. Apart from affecting the lives of people in China and Hong Kong, the economies of these countries will also be impacted. As the coronavirus spreads, more countries around the world will see cases begin to arise.