Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

mers-3-(1).PNGMiddle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been making headlines since 2012 when it was first discovered in Saudi Arabia. A recent outbreak of MERS has occurred in the Republic of Korea affecting 150 people and claiming the lives of over a dozen to date. Close to 3,000 people in South Korea are under quarantine. Two unrelated cases of MERS were diagnosed in the United States in 2014 and both patients have made a full recovery. 

While not considered a public health emergency by the World Health Organization, viruses can mutate and could cause a global pandemic. As a healthcare provider, it is important that you have an understanding of MERS and appropriate infection control practices in order to identify and prevent its further spread. As an educator, you play a critical role in informing patients about the signs and symptoms of MERS and strategies to avoid contracting this highly contagious disease.



What is MERS?

MERS is caused by a coronavirus (CoV), a group of viruses that are responsible for illnesses ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Almost 1,200 cases of human MERS-CoV infection have been reported and over 440 deaths (35% mortality rate) have been attributed to it. The origin of the virus is unknown but is suspected to have come from an animal source. MERS-CoV is thought to spread from an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as through coughing. The incubation period for MERS (time from exposure to MERS-CoV to symptoms) is typically five to six days but can range from two to 14 days. There are no specific treatments for patients aside from supportive therapy to relieve the symptoms. Patients with mild to no symptoms have made a full recovery.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, severe acute respiratory disease
  • Chills, chest pain, body aches, sore throat, malaise, headache
  • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain

Severe complications include: 

  • Pneumonia
  • Kidney failure

Who’s susceptible or at high risk?

  • People with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney failure, chronic lung disease
  • People with weakened immune systems such as cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or organ transplant patients receiving immunosuppressive drugs
  • Elderly

Need-to-know information for nurses

  • If your patient exhibits fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, assess if he or she has
    • traveled to a country in or near the Arabian Peninsula within 14 days of symptoms onset.
    • been in contact with someone who has traveled to the Arabian Peninsula within 14 days of symptoms onset.
    • a history of being in a healthcare facility (as a patient, worker or visitor) in the Republic of Korea within 14 days of symptom onset.
    • been in close contact with a confirmed MERS patient while the patient was ill.
  • MERS is a reportable disease and local health departments should be notified of any suspected MERS cases.
  • Strict infection-control measures should be used while managing suspected and confirmed cases of MERS, including hand hygiene; contact, droplet and airborne precautions along with full personal protective equipment – gown, gloves, mask and eye protection (goggles or face shield).  MERS patients should be placed in a negative pressure room. 
mers-pt-ed.PNG
 
Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for complete recommendations and Interim Guidance for Healthcare Professionals in the detection, evaluation and care of MERS patients.
References:
Todd, B. (2014). EMERGING INFECTIONS: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). AJN, American Journal of Nursing, 114 (1).
Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (2015, June 12). Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
World Health Organization (2015, June 13). Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Myrna B. Schnur, RN, MSN

 
Posted: 6/16/2015 4:48:16 AM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 2 comments


Comments
Junga
Thanks for taking this
6/27/2015 10:06:15 PM

Chung-Cha
TESTIMONY OF HOW GOD CURED MY MIDDLE EAST RESPIRATORY SYNDROME (MERS)
My name is Chung-Cha Ye-jun. One morning I started having cough, running nose and head aches. I conclude that they were symptoms of malaria so i took drugs. two days after my body began to ache, my body temperature was so high and i began also to start having breathing difficulties. So I went to my doctor and complained. He asked me to go for a test which i did. A day later the test result was out and i discovered that i had the
the MERS disease.
I was so frightened, i cried all day, my husband comforted me and told me that no amount of cry would change the situation
that we should look for a way to cure the disease. And that was how we met Dr Olu.
Glory be to God with the help of doctor Olu am perfectly cure today. Am so happy that am alive hale and healthy.
If you have MERS disease i advise that you contact dr Olu today via his email <<drolutrado@gmail.com>>

--Chung-Cha Ye-jun
South Korea
6/23/2015 9:23:58 AM

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