139 New Cases of Deadly MERS Disease Reported to WHO

First Posted: Oct 19, 2013 10:43 AM EDT

The WHO announced the spread of deadly MERS-Cov (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) disease in Qatar.

About 139 cases of MERS-Cov have been detected worldwide with the help of lab confirmations since September 2012 and 60 deaths were reported to the WHO.

The WHO asked its member states to carry on analyzing and surveying for SARI (severe acute respiratory infections) and check for any unusual patterns. All the health centers are advised to be alert and careful about the issue. The health centers were also told about the value of systematic implementation of IPC (infection prevention and control).

 Any tourist who gets infected by SARI after visiting Middle East should be checked for MERS-CoV by the medics, as adviced by the current surveillance recommendations. Samples from the lower respiratory tracts of the patients should be analysed closely. If any traces of the disease will be found in the patients, they should be treated immediately.

Immunocompromised patients portraying unusual symptoms like diarrhoea, should be tested for the disease too.

WHO should be informed about any new cases of the disease, along with the details of possible exposure, which could have caused it. This would aid in preventing the disease from spreading further.

MERS is a communicable disease, no instances of this disease have been reported in the U.S. so far. But the Middle East seems to be affected the most by this illness. Above 800 people have been killed by this disease a decade ago.

A 61-year-old man was diagnosed with this fatal SARS-like disease on Oct. 11. His infection was confirmed by the reference laboratory of Public Health England. It was found that the man did not travel out of Qatar two weeks before he got infected and he was in contact with animals like camels, hens and sheep on his farm.

A group of scientists from across the world, including those from facilities in Spain, the Middle East , Germany, Chile and the Netherlands had carried out a research on farm animals like goats, sheep  and  camels. They suspect Arabian camels (camelus dromedarius) to be the carriers of the MERS virus, according to a report.

Another research conducted earlier this July pointed towards Muslim pilgrims to Mecca as the likely trigger of this grave disease globally.

"With millions of foreign pilgrims set to congregate in Mecca and Medina between Ramadan and the hajj, pilgrims could acquire and subsequently return to their home countries with MERS, either through direct exposure to the as-of-yet unidentified source or through contact with domestic pilgrims who may be infected," said Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician from Toronto, according to a report.

There has been no cure to this ailment so far, scientists are still trying to invent a cure to combat this disease. WHO has imposed no restrictions on traveling or trading regarding this matter. The CDC advices people to wash their hands, take precautions to prevent respiratory illnesses and avoid contact with sick people while traveling in the Middle East.

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