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MERS Virus

What you need to know about MERS

A case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has been confirmed in a patient in northwestern Indiana by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Indiana State Department of Health is working with CDC and others to identify potential additional cases and to prevent further transmission of the disease. This is the first case of MERS-CoV in the United States.

MERS-Cov is a viral respiratory illness that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Health officials do not know where the virus came from or exactly how it spreads. There is no available vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus.

The symptoms of MERS-CoV are similar to the symptoms of influenza and include:

  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Fever over 100.4
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pneumonia
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea

Although the MERS-CoV infection is not easily spread from person-to-person, close contacts of people with MERS-CoV can develop infections. To help prevent the spread of MERS-CoV to other people, the CDC advises that people follow these tips:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact, such as kissing, sharing cups or sharing utensils with sick people.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

The Indiana State Department of Health has established a hotline for Hoosiers to call with questions. The hotline will be open seven days a week until further notice from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The number is 1-877-826-0011.

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