How worried should you be about MERS as World Cup fans return from Qatar?

Doctors warn of World Cup 'camel flu' risk

As fans prepare to return home from the Qatar World Cup, doctors are being advised to be on the lookout for any Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) cases.

The UK Health Security Agency (HSA) sent a notice to healthcare providers that, “Clinicians and public health teams should specifically be alert to the possibility of MERS in returning travellers from the World Cup" according to The Sun.

MERS is an uncommon, but deadly, respiratory virus caused by close contact with camels or camel products like milk and meat.

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Like Covid-19, MERS is a coronavirus.

Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, fatigue, and more.

Unlike Covid-19, MERS has a fatality rate of approximately 36 per cent.

So how concerned should people be about MERS?

“The risk of infection to UK residents is very low but may be higher in those with exposure to specific risk factors within the region - such as to camels," the HSA notice apparently said.

MERS is mainly spread between humans and camels and can only be spread human-to-human by very close contact with an infected person.

Concern about the virus grew this week after three of France's national football team members contracted a flu-like illness just ahead of the final match between France and Argentina.

Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano were too unwell to participate in the match against Morocco and Kingsley Coman has supposedly felt "feverish."

Although it is unconfirmed what type of illness the footballers have, coach Didier Deschamps noted it was flu season, the footballers may have run-down immune systems, and cited the air conditioners as a potential effect.

So likely, your risk of contracting MERS if you have not travelled to Qatar or been in contact with a camel, is low.

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