This detailed and accurate scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of the Avian Flu Virus (Bird Flu) from 3DScience.com helps in understanding the structural elements of this virus.  (PRNewsFoto/Zygote Media Group)

It all started from a sixty-eight year old man. Traveling to a couple of Middle Eastern countries, this man brought back a dangerous souvenir from Saudi Arabia. He brought back MERS. All over the news, the outbreak of this disease in South Korea is something that cannot be left untouched. 

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, commonly known as MERS or the camel virus, is a viral respiratory illness. Caused by coronaviruses, the symptoms of MERS include high fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Upon hearing the word coronavirus, some people may remember the widespread of SARS in China a few years ago. MERS is a disease as dangerous as SARS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around three to four people out of ten who catch it are known to die. 

Currently, there are around two hundred people diagnosed with MERS in South Korea. Nineteen people have already died in the past couple of months due to the disease, and the number is continuing to grow. 

Why is MERS spreading? A big reason may not be the power of the virus itself, but the way people are dealing with it. More than five thousand people are currently being asked to stay home in case they have MERS. How many people actually stay in their houses for the whole day? In reality, the virus is continuing to spread as people under quarantine decide to go outside and come in contact with many other people. From what is happening so far, it clear that the system for controlling the disease is not working. The plan of action is a little too loose. Even though health officials say that the outbreak is to end before July, the death toll is more likely to rise without a reliable treatment. A better way to deal with the disease is needed. If not found, MERS will not only effect people in Korea but all over the world. How to deal with rising diseases is something all countries currently need to think about. 

The Bird Flu in China, Ebola in Africa, and now the widespread of MERS in South Korea. Over the past couple of years, many powerful diseases have been emerging in our lives, threatening to create a world pandemic. Some people may say that it is all up to the health organizations, government, and hospitals to figure out a solution to the rising problem. However, there are many things everyone around the world can do. Whether it is to wash our hands properly, cover our mouths when sneezing, or to go to the doctor when something feels wrong, it is important for each and every one of us to take actions, big or small, toward creating a health promoting environment. With proper attention and action, the development and rise of future diseases can be stopped – a prevention of casualties of millions of people. The recent outbreak of MERS has not only opened up the eyes of people living in Korea, but it has also informed the whole world about the dangerous power of diseases. It has given everyone a chance to realize the weakness of the current health system. 

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