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Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
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Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

Last update: 2022-06-07

Key facts

Transmission

  • Close contact with (including providing care to) a person infected by MERS
  • Close contact with dromedary (Arabian) camels (how the disease spreads is not yet fully understood)

Symptoms

  • Fever, cough and shortness of breath, diarrhoea.
  • If severe, can cause breathing to become difficult and stop. Patients may need breathing support in a hospital.

Prevention

  • Avoid contact with sick animals
  • Avoid consuming raw or undercooked camel products (milk, meat, urine)
  • Adopt coughing etiquette
  • Use personal protection or barriers when caring for a sick person (masks, gloves)
  • Wash hands with soap
  • Adopt social mobilization and behaviour change communication
  • Keep animals under surveillance

Vulnerable people

  • Older people
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People with chronic diseases such as renal disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and diabetes

If an epidemic occurs

  • Detect sick people rapidly and refer them to health facilities
  • Increase social mobilization and behaviour change communication
  • Promote use of personal protection or barriers when caring for a sick person (masks, gloves)
  • Isolate sick people
  • Promote handwashing with soap
  • Promote coughing etiquette
  • Disinfect reusable supplies that are used to care for or treat sick people
  • Encourage people to avoid contact with animals infected by MERS
  • Tell people they should not consume raw or undercooked camel products (milk, meat)
  • Promote animal surveillance

Community-based assessment - questions

Make a map of the community and mark the information you gather on the map. Record other details.

  • When did people start to fall sick with MERS?
  • How many people have fallen sick with MERS? Where?
  • How many have died? Where?
  • How many people live in the affected community or area? How many children under five years of age live in the area?
  • Who and where are the vulnerable people?
  • Who is most affected by MERS?
  • Are areas or markets with animals known to be infected by MERS? Where are they?
  • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about handling and slaughtering animals, especially animals that are sick or dead?
  • Do people cook milk and meat thoroughly before eating them?
  • Are there handwashing facilities in the community, at animal markets and other areas where livestock gather? Are soap and water always available?
  • Where are the local health facilities and services? (Include traditional and community carers from whom people seek advice.)
  • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs about caring for and feeding sick people?
  • Is a social mobilization or health promotion programme in place?
  • Which sources or channels of information do people use most?
  • Are rumours or is misinformation about MERS spreading in the community?MERS lung