Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a bit of a mouthful. However, Medical professionals, and especially respiratory therapists who specialize in treating diseases like MERS-CoV, would be wise to be familiar with it. An outbreak of the disease has now appeared in South Korea alongside an original outbreak seen in the Middle East.
It is believed that the outbreak in South Korea is in particular due to sufferers seeking care at a variety of different facilities in the hopes of finding the best option and spreading the disease in doing so. Family members invited to stay with patients in overcrowded healthcare facilities has also contributed to the outbreak.
The infection was unfamiliar to South Korean clinicians when it first entered the general Korean public, and as a result it was able to spread quickly before being identified and contained. There have so far been 175 confirmed cases.
In an effort to prevent a similar situation in the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued its own health advisory in the hopes of updating healthcare providers and physicians to the symptoms of MERS-CoV.
MERS-CoV can appear similar to many respiratory problems, being accompanied by fever, pneumonia, and significant respiratory distress. In South Korea, it was this similarity to other diseases that prevented easy identification and containment of the disease.
As a result, the CDC is also recommending that patients exhibiting these or similar symptoms also be questioned extensively about their travel history. Anyone who has traveled in or near the Arabian Peninsula or South Korea, is potentially at risk for the disease. If travel in either of these areas coincides with the onset of symptoms, physicians are encouraged to evaluate their patients for MERS-CoV.
Hopefully, these guidelines, as well as the hard work of respiratory therapists and physicians, will keep the disease contained and prevent its potential spread in the U.S.