Friday, April 25, 2014

Have you heard about the MERS virus?

It's the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus. Another one as bad as SARS.
Since April 2012,

  • cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) have been reported in 12 countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, the United Kingdom (UK), France, Tunisia, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia and Greece. 
  • In France, Italy, Tunisia and UK, there has been limited local transmission among close contacts that had not been to the Middle East. 
  • There have been no cases identified in Canada. 
  • As much as 75% of the recently reported cases appear to be secondary cases, meaning that they are considered to have acquired the infection from another infected person.
  • The majority of these secondary cases are healthcare workers who have been infected within the healthcare setting. The majority of the infected healthcare workers presented with no or minor symptoms. 
  • Several hospital patients are considered to have been infected with MERS‐CoV. 
  • Only four instances of transmission within households have been reported.
  • Although camels are suspected to be the primary source of infection for humans, the exact routes of direct or indirect exposure remain unknown. 
The World Health Organization (WHO), which is following the progress of the disease, has confirmed 254 cases, but that doesn't tell us the full story. The combined case count announced by individual countries has been 385.
So far, the death toll is 100. They write that at least 45% of all MERS cases have occurred in April. This doesn't bode well.

When you fly, make sure you breath through your nose. Your nose has the ability to filter out some pathogens.
Wash your hands, or carry hand sanitizer with you. Effective hand sanitizers have over 75% alcohol, otherwise they are not powerful enough.

Canada on guard for MERS virus as WHO warns exported cases ‘very likely’ 

  • Read PHAC’s risk assessment for the MERS virus here.
  • Read the WHO’s risk assessment for the MERS virus here.
  • On 8 August 2013, WHO issued an advice note (PDF Document) on home care for patients infected with MERS-CoV. This was developed to meet the urgent need for recommendations on the safe home care for patients with MERS-CoV infection presenting with mild symptoms and public health measures related to management of asymptomatic contacts.

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