What is MERS exactly?
MERS stands for "Middle East Respiratory Syndrome." According to the CDC, it's a is a viral respiratory illness caused by the virus MERS-CoV. This strain of coronavirus that causes MERS was first identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, but WHO is clear that it's a new virus of which scientists have very little knowledge. Most believe that MERS has an animal source, and the CDC points to MERS cases in camels as reason for suspicion. The disease spreads through close contact, causing symptoms including shortness of breath, fever and and a cough.
MERS is currently sending South Korea into crisis-mode after an outbreak started May 20th with its first confirmed case. Since then the threat of MERS has been shutting down hundreds of schools and calling off large gatherings in hopes of containment. Two people have died so far, and as of Thursday the outlook for continued spread seems likely.
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For more information on those who are more at risk for contracting MERS click here.