Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is an infection caused by 1 type of coronavirus called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Other types of coronaviruses are some of many viruses that cause the common cold.
When your child has MERS, the virus is in his mucus and saliva. We believe it spreads to others when your child coughs or sneezes. However, your child must be in close contact for more than a short time before he gets the virus, and so far there has been limited spread from one person to another. Your child is not likely to get MERS from walking by a person or sitting across from someone in a waiting room or office for a brief time.
Animals, such as camels, may spread the virus to humans. Your child is at higher risk for MERS if he has recently traveled to countries in the Middle East, or if he has been exposed to someone who traveled there in the past 2 weeks. It’s also possible your child may get MERS if he has frequent contact with something with the MERS virus on it (like cups, doorknobs, and hands) and then touches his mouth, nose, or eyes.
Some people with the virus do not have symptoms. Symptoms normally begin within 5 to 14 days of exposure, and may be mild to serious. Most people with MERS have symptoms such as:
Symptoms may include mild respiratory symptoms, such as sore throat, runny nose, and cough with mucus. Your child might also have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms can quickly get worse and serious symptoms need treatment right away.
MERS may cause pneumonia or death, and children with long-term medical conditions are at higher risk.
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms, medical history, and recent travels, and examine your child. Tests may include special tests to look for the virus.
Tests may be done to look for other causes of the symptoms that might cause complications, such as:
There is no specific treatment for the MERS virus. The goals of care are to prevent others from getting the virus and to treat any complications your child may have.
If your child has MERS, he should be in isolation. This means that special precautions must be taken:
Treatment depends on your child’s symptoms. If your child is very ill, he needs to be in the hospital. Treatment may include:
Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. Ask your provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
If your child has MERS, to help prevent the spread of the virus:
There is no vaccine to protect against the virus.
If your child doesn’t have MERS, to reduce the risk of getting MERS:
You can get more information from: