Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has taken the world by surprise. In Saudi Arabia alone, there are about twenty new cases of MERS confirmed for the past weeks. According to the Health Ministry of Saudi Arabia, as of April 8, 2014, there were about 244 cases of infection with forty nine cases of confirmed MERS. What made it alarming? Out of the 244 cases, seventy six died.
MERS has no cure. In Saudi Arabia, experts are tracing the origin but the officials said that there are no causes for the sudden rise of MERS. Everyone should be alarmed. Here in Singapore, the Health Ministry and the points of entrance (airport, port and railways) are monitored for possible infection. Singaporeans should not be worried about this.
Even if there are remote chances that you can get infected, it is still important that you know what it is and how to deal with it for your safety and your family. So, here are the things that you should know about MERS:
- Virology: MERS is a virus. It belongs to Betacoronavirus genus. There are researchers who studied and believed that the virus is related to Egyptian Tomb Bat. But lately, a researcher from Saudi found out that MERS is related to camels. It doesn’t matter where it came from as long as you are aware of it. Remember that MERS is dangerous. It should be taken seriously.
- Origin: MERS is the 6th new type of Coronavirus. You should keep in mind that Coronavirus (and its types) is different from SARS. Unfortunately, it is not yet sure whether the infections are the effect of zoonatic transmissions. MERS is new.
- Transmission: In 2013, according to World Health Organization (WHO), the risk of person to person transmission is very low. However, as of late, WHO warned that the MERS is a danger to the entire world. WHO also stressed that there are no strong evidence that suggest camels are the main source of the infection. In 2014, a study of dromedary camels proved that camels might be the reservoir of MERS.
That should be enough. You have to keep in mind the things mentioned above for your safety and your family. If you recently travelled in Saudi Arabia, it is important that you let yourself get tested. You have to be tested and if you are positive, you have to stay isolated so you cannot infect other people near you. If you have plans to travel to the Middle East (Saudi Arabia in particular), you have to postpone until further notice. Do not risk your body and expose it to the known danger.