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MERS-CoV: Update

Member Services
June 12, 2015
Categories: Alerts, Advisories, Health

Last year, we posted a warning about MERS-CoV, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. This year, the list of countries affected by MERS has expanded significantly to include South Korea and China. As of June 12, 126 confirmed cases have been reported in South Korea, with 13 deaths. Approximately 3,680 other people are in quarantine in Korea and being monitored after contact with MERS-CoV patients.

According to data from the WHO on 11 June, 1,227 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV have been reported worldwide, including at least 449 deaths, since September 2012. Thus far, MERS is most prevalent in Saudi Arabia, which has recorded over 1000 cases and 450 deaths. Meanwhile, the UAE has recorded 75 MERS-CoV cases, five of which were diagnosed in 2015. The UAE has the third largest number of cases in the world after Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

Before heading to regions affected by MERS, review risks, prevention and treatment.

Transmission:

The primary source of transmission is from infected animals to people working closely with the animals, with limited human-to-human transmission.  Camels are suspected to be the main animal source of infection but this has yet to be confirmed by health authorities and investigations regarding the source are ongoing.  The incubation period is 2-14 days.

Who is at risk:

--Older individuals (>65 years of age)
--Individuals with chronic diseases (e.g. heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, nervous system disorders, diabetes)
--Individuals with immunodeficiency (congenital or acquired)
--Patients with malignancy
--Patients with a terminal illness
--Pregnant women
-- Children

Signs and symptoms:

--Fever
--Cough
--Shortness of breath
--May have gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.

It should be noted that not all infected individuals will exhibit symptoms. Those who have traveled to affected regions should be cautious, regardless of their activities or outward symptoms.

Treatment:

There is no specific treatment for MERS-CoV infection.  The current treatment regimen involves supportive care to alleviate symptoms and provide support to vital organ functions.

Prevention:

  1. Observe good personal hygiene at all times.
    2.Practice frequent hand-washing (before handling food or eating, after going to the toilet or when hands are soiled). Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
    3.    Avoid close contact with persons suffering from acute respiratory infections.
    4.    Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    6. Get vaccinated against influenza and meningitis. While there is NOvaccination against MERS-CoV, vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal infection can help prevent these common infections that have symptoms similar to MERS-CoV.
    9. If you are traveling to the affected regions and have pre-existing chronic conditions, consult your doctor prior to your travels for medical travel advice.
    10. Should you become unwell with fever and cough during or after your recent travel (within two weeks) to affected regions, wear a mask and seek medical attention immediately.

See additional recommendations and guidance on CDC’s MERS website:http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/hcp.html

Contact Global Rescue Operations at 617-459-4200 or operations@globalrescue.com with questions regarding MERS.

 


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