June 08, 2015 10:31
The telltale signs of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome are high fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. But MERS patients display a wide range of symptoms that resemble the flu like muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pains and even blood poisoning.
One MERS patient who recovered said, "Perhaps it was due to the high fever, but I was in a stupor, my body ached and I didn't even have the strength to get out of bed or eat." But the patient said the coughing and phlegm were not that bad.
In contrast, a doctor at Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul, who became the 35th confirmed case of MERS in Korea, said, "I couldn't stop coughing and thick phlegm clogged my throat." The doctor also suffered a high fever and aching muscles.
According to media reports, a patient in Saudi Arabia who became the first confirmed case of MERS in June of 2012, suffered from a high fever, coughing, difficulty breathing and thick phlegm for a week.
Experts said MERS symptoms are similar to the common cold, but individual symptoms can vary and the deadly respiratory disease does not always accompany a high fever.
The leading symptom is difficulty breathing. Koh Yun-seok, a doctor at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, said, "MERS is a respiratory disease, so it is sually accompanied by breathing-related problems." If the virus spreads to the digestive system, a patient can also suffer diarrhea, inflammation of the kidneys and even blood poisoning.
"If the virus causes internal inflammation, the infection could spread via the blood to other organs and cause damage beyond the respiratory system," Koh said.
Eom Joong-sik at Hallym University Medical Center said, "It is difficult to distinguish between MERS patients and those suffering from the common flu if the symptoms are mild."
Lee Jae-kap at Kangnam Sacred Heart Hospital said, "MERS symptoms appears similar to those of the common cold so the only way to determine a MERS patient is to verify whether he or she came into direct contact with a MERS patient."
Meanwhile, research institutes in Saudi Arabia, home to the largest number of MERS infections in the world, analyzed patients and found that 98 percent of them had a high fever, 83 percent a cough, and 72 percent difficulty breathing. Also, 32 percent suffered from muscle aches, 26 percent from digestive problems including diarrhea, 21 percent from nausea and 17 percent from stomach pains.
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