The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in panic and confusion all over the world, due to the rapid pace at which the coronavirus disease, triggered by SARS-CoV-2 virus, is spreading amongst the human population. Currently, more than 3.1 million people have contracted the deadly disease, which has claimed more than 217,000 lives.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which implies they reside in animals and are transmitted to humans by means of direct contact with live, infected creatures or consumption of contaminated meat products. However, COVID-19 is not the first instance of humans falling sick due to viruses originating in wildlife.
Initially discovered in a subset of the population in Saudi Arabia in the year 2012, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is also a lethal illness caused due to coronaviruses, which continues to prompt local outbreaks even today.
The causative agent of MERS is a strain of coronavirus known as MERS-CoV, which is different from SARS-CoV-2 - the reason behind COVID-19. Also Read: Coronavirus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Although MERS has been identified in people across 27 countries in the world, more than 80 per cent of the cases reported have been from the region in and around Saudi Arabia.
MERS-CoV viral vector, reportedly stemming from bats, eventually dispersed to humans by means of infected dromedary camels. This distinct variant of coronavirus mostly infects people only under really close contact, such as in a healthcare setting.
People who have contracted the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome usually display the following indications:
If left untreated, MERS could lead to grave complications such as pneumonia, severe lung infections, kidney failure and even death. Hence, it is strongly advised to seek immediate medical care, as soon as any signs of MERS are experienced by a person.
Certain groups of individuals are more inclined to contract Middle East Respiratory Syndrome then other normal, healthy people. These high-risk groups include:
- Senior citizens over the age of 60.
- Immune-compromised individuals with cancer or HIV
- People with chronic ailments like diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease Also Read: COVID-19 And Diabetes: Effective Ways To Manage The Condition
The doctor will initially examine all the external physical indications of the patient. They also enquire about the patient’s recent travel history, as well as any other underlying conditions that they may already be suffering from.
A swab of the tissue sample is collected from the person’s respiratory tract and then analysed in the laboratory to look for the presence of MERS-CoV infection. Blood tests are also conducted, to determine if any antibodies to combat MERS have been synthesised in the system of the patient.
A preventive vaccine or therapeutic drug for MERS infection has not been developed yet.
Once the diagnosis of MERS is confirmed in a patient, the doctor initiates the appropriate course of treatment in the hospital, by quarantining the infected individual. Remedial measures usually consist of medications and therapy to diminish the symptoms of discomfort that the patient endures.
In case of severe infection to the chest and lungs in a patient with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, oxygen therapy and mechanical ventilators are employed, to help in the breathing process without any obstructions.
These treatment methods assist in eliminating MERS-CoV infection from the system of the patient and recovering optimal lung capacity, to restore normal respiratory functions.