Labelled as “a threat to the world” by Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has demonstrated high mortality rate at 36%. As of August 2015, at least 1,384 confirmed cases were reported with 495 deaths.
Back in April 2014, a 54-year-old man from Johor died from MERS after returning from Mecca. He passed away 3 days after he was admitted into the hospital for respiratory complications with fever, cough and breathing difficulties. Passengers on the same flight as the deceased were then urged to do a full body check after the first MERS case was reported.
With frightening figures showed above, here are 7 things you need to know about the virus to protect yourself:
1. What is MERS?
MERS is a serious respiratory disease that was first discovered at Saudi Arabia in 2012. It’s caused by a coronavirus known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) leading to common colds that infect both animals and humans.
It is closely related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that infected 8,000 people globally and killed 774 lives before the outbreak ended in 2004. MERS has since spread to several other countries and often due to travellers returning from Middle East countries.
2. Where does MERS-COV comes from?
The virus is believed to live in bats and camels that may infect humans after coming in contact. As strains of MERS-COV are found identical in camels in several countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman and Qatar.
3. How is MERS transmitted?
The virus is transmitted via saliva or mucus droplets when a person coughs or sneezes.
4. What are the symptoms?
An infected person will exhibit symptoms include cough, fever, vomit and shortness of breath. These symptoms would appear between 2 to 14 days after exposure.
5. Who is at risk?
People with weakened immune systems, older people or already has medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes or chronic lung disease are at greater danger to contract MERS.
Besides that, people who provide care to an infected person while not practising good hygiene can also be affected, people such as family members or health care personnel.
6. Is there a cure?
There is no specific medication known to treat MERS currently. However, a person can reduce the risk of infection with good personal hygiene and avoiding close contact with sick people or animals. It is also advisable to not consume raw or undercooked animal foods.
7. What can you do to protect yourself from MERS?
Although Malaysia did not report any confirmed case to date this year and the MERS outbreak currently contained, it is important to take precautions from the deadly virus. Reason being Malaysia plays host to many international travellers, who may potentially carry the virus into the country at any given time.
The recommended way to avoid any diseases is to practise proper personal hygiene at all times. This can be done with washing your hands thoroughly with soap. You may also view an illustration of tips to protect yourself from MERS here.
#InitialHygiene #handhygiene #handwashing #MERS
Source: WHO, The Star, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention