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Experts about the MERS virus

02 May 2014 / 16:05:43  GRReporter
2076 reads

The emergence of the dangerous MERS coronavirus, which is transmitted from person to person via close contacts, caused great concern among health authorities in Greece. There is a confirmed case of an infected man who came from Saudi Arabia to Greece. On Thursday, the Hellenic Pasteur Institute issued questions and answers related to the virus. Concern is expressed about the high mortality. At the same time the Institute said the there is no preventive vaccine or drug.

How is the virus transmitted, what are the symptoms and how can it be prevented?

• What is MERS-CoV;

MERS-CoV is a corona virus, first discovered in Saudi Arabia. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, including viruses causing the common cold, as well as the virus which causes severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS.

• What are the symptoms of MERS?

Patients infected with MERS-CoV, have an acute infection of the respiratory system and in many cases, pneumonia, fever, cough and breathing difficulties. Many patients have gastroenterological symptoms, including diarrhoea and kidney failure. Some infected people, however, only have a mild respiratory infection.

• Is MERS-CoV transmitted from person to person?

MERS-CoV can be transmitted from person to person via a close contact, such as a contact between the patient and carers, as well as a stay in the same room with the patient in the phase of infection. There are cases of transmission from patients to hospital staff.

• Where does MERS-CoV come from?

The original source of the virus has not been discovered yet. It may come from animals. Besides humans, MERS-CoV has been detected in a camel in Qatar, as well as in a bat in Saudi Arabia.

• Is there cause for concern?

Both at European and global level, there is concern because of the acute infection observed in people infected with MERS-CoV. The fact that half of those infected have died also causes concern. Another reason for concern is the fact that it is transmitted from person to person outside Saudi Arabia.

• How can it be prevented?

According to the international guidelines for the prevention of respiratory infections:

a) Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, helping small children do the same. If there is no soap and water, use alcohol-based hand disinfectant.

b) Cover your nose and mouth with a paper handkerchief when sneezing or coughing and dispose of it afterwards.

c) Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

d) Avoid close contact such as kissing, or mutual use of cutlery or other utensils with sick people.

e) Clean and disinfect surfaces in the kitchen, doors and children's toys regularly.

• Is there a vaccine?

So far, there is no vaccine, but attempts are being made to create one.

• Are there other medications?

There is no specific drug to combat the complications caused by MERS-CoV.

• Is there an examination for its diagnosis?

The Hellenic Pasteur Institute offers examinations for the detection and confirmation of cases of MERS-CoV.

• What can we do to in order protect ourselves from the virus?

The exact mode of transmission of the virus is not known. Prevention measures are the same as for other viral respiratory infections: avoid close contacts with infected people, as well as with people who have travelled in high-risk areas. Also, comply with hand hygiene and hygiene of the respiratory system:

Hand hygiene:

• Wash your hands often, especially if someone is sick at home. Hand hygiene also prevents transmission of infections caused by touching contaminated surfaces or transmission from patients to hospital staff.

• Wash your hands with soap and water when they are visibly dirty. When they are not so dirty, you can clean them or use alcohol-based cleaners.

Hygiene of the respiratory system:

• Cover your mouth and nose with a medical mask, handkerchief or hand when coughing or sneezing. Discard the used tissue in a closed bin immediately after use. Wash your hands after each bout of coughing or sneezing.

• During a journey:

1. Monitor your health while travelling.

2. Follow general hand and respiratory system hygiene measures

3. Avoid contacts with sick or infected people with symptoms of respiratory infection

4. Avoid confined spaces

• Where can I have a medical examination?

If you have a fever or symptoms of infection of the upper respiratory tract within 14 days after having travelled to a country on the Arabian Peninsula or a neighbouring country, you should tell your doctor and inform him or her about the trip.

Tags: MERS corona virus prevention hygiene measures
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