Following the confirmation of a second diagnosed case of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in the United States, federal health officials have alerted nearly two-dozen airports to be on the lookout for any sick travelers, posting warnings throughout the travel hubs in order to raise awareness of American citizens on their way to jet-set. MERS is characterized by a laundry list of symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and is confirmed to have killed more than 171 people so far.
Why Are Health Officials So Concerned About MERS?
Everyone from the United Nations to national governments, like the federal government of the United States, are taking seemingly extreme steps to push for greater awareness and detection of MERS entering different places around the world. Looking at the symptoms of MERS, it’s easy to dismiss it as a type of influenza with a weird acronym for a name. However, unlike influenza, MERS kills 30% of the people it infects. Especially when contracted by the young, the old, or the particularly infirm, MERS is known to kill rapidly, as it can also cause sudden kidney failure.While there hasn’t been any word yet on the infectivity of MERS, which is to say how easy it is for people to contract the disease, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States say that the likelihood of contracting the illness without traveling to Saudi Arabia, thought to be the origin of the disease, is exceptionally low. Rate of transmission and medium of transmission will likely be announced at a later date, after officials have had more time to conduct research on the coronavirus.
What Can the Average Citizen Do to Defend Themselves?
Even if MERS remains a relatively rare condition, the CDC is advising Americans to take a number of steps to help avoid contracting the illness. Among the most sensible is simply to pay attention to your body. If you’ve recently returned from the Middle East and you notice strange symptoms within 14 days of being home, you should consult your doctor or urgent care staff immediately. Catching it early could be the key to overcoming something with a proven ability to kill.
“The MERS virus should be taken seriously, as it’s quick acting and potentially deadly,” says Alison, Practice Manager at AFC Doctors Express. “While it’s unlikely we will see any active cases, it’s best practice for our team of experienced physicians to be up-to-date on all world wide health issues as we do treat all ages and types of patients, including those who are from abroad and/or recently traveled abroad in urgent care.”