Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which surfaced in Saudi Arabia in 2012, is not well-understood. Because the virus is still fairly new, doctors and scientists do not know the exact source or mode of its transmission. Currently, there is no known cure or vaccine to protect against the virus.
Since May 2015, the South Korea has been investigating an outbreak of MERS. It is the largest known outbreak of MERS outside the Middle East. Most people infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About 3-4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died.
Experts agree that the best protection against the deadly virus is avoiding close contact with those infected. The outbreak in South Korea further highlights the need for a quick, comprehensive quarantine of those affected and keeping the public properly informed.
For those that will be in contact with MERS patients – such as hospital workers or family members – the CDC has recommended certain precautions to avoid transmission. A NIOSH-certified disposable N95 respirator is one piece of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) recommended by the CDC, and considered by many health officials as the first line of defense against the virus. Other examples of PPE include gloves, gowns, and eye protection.
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