Diagnosing and Treating Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)
While early diagnosis of MERS is important for preventing complications and viral spread, many patients are not diagnosed initially, and usually develop more severe illness.
What to Expect
If you have mild symptoms, you may be asked by your doctor to drink fluids, remain at home and avoid contact with others to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. If you have severe symptoms, you will be admitted to the hospital and kept in an isolation room to avoid spreading the disease to others. Some patients with severe symptoms may develop lung or respiratory failure and require a breathing tube and a device to support breathing, called a mechanical ventilator or respirator.
How MERS Is Diagnosed
Symptoms of respiratory illness and recent travel to the Middle East region should raise the suspicion that a patient may have MERS. The World Health Organization developed a questionnaire that is used to investigate possible cases of disease. If your doctor suspects MERS, you will have a chest X-ray, blood tests, kidney function tests and respiratory samples (lung secretions) for evaluation.
How MERS Is Treated
There is no approved treatment specific for MERS. Patients with mild disease are given treatment for relief of symptoms like pain and fever. They are not hospitalized, and they should stay at home and avoid contact with others to reduce spread of the virus. If a patient has severe disease, they will be admitted to the hospital. Supportive lung care and monitoring of body functions are usually performed. They may also be given oxygen, antibiotics and intravenous fluids.
Page Last Updated: July 23, 2019
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