Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) has killed 92 people worldwide since September of 2012. Aside from the recorded deaths, 150 more have been infected.
In the Philippines, an Overseas Filipino Worker who recently arrived from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was initially tested positive of the virus but was confirmed to be negative after a confirmatory test was done here in the Philippines.
He and his immediate family were right away quarantined upon arrival. The Department of Health (DOH) is also looking into the man’s possible contacts. Passengers in his flight to the Philippines are being tested as Philippine Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona said the man is a “carrier”. The nurse is also known to have had contact with the Filipino Paramedic who died April 10 of the same virus in UAE.
World Health Organization (WHO) advises people on travel and health care workers to take standard or basic precautions to reduce disease transmission. Such precautions include hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment or PPE based on risk assessment and cough etiquette (cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing).
Furthermore, droplet precautions are advised to health care workers caring for patients with respiratory symptoms. Droplet precautions include the use of mask when in a room with these types of patients. If however, diagnosis of MERS-CoV infection is confirmed, contact and eye precautions are necessary in addition to the aforementioned ones to prevent disease transmission. This means that visitors and health workers caring for these patients should wear gowns, goggles, gloves and mask.
About MERS – CoV
Corona Virus in general is a big family of viruses that affects both animals and man. The MERS-Corona Virus type was first reported in Saudi Arabia in the year 2012. It is relatively novel and was not seen in humans before, WHO says. People infected present with acute respiratory symptoms ranging in severity from simple cough and shortness of breath with fever to acute respiratory distress that can lead to death. Some people also experience diarrhea and kidney failure.
The disease is not easily identified as it initially presents with symptoms similar to other acute respiratory diseases. However, on testing, MERS – CoV can be confirmed in a matter of 9 to 12 hours. Thus, WHO further advises reporting cases of severe respiratory symptoms for ruling out or confirmatory testing.
As this type of Corona virus is new, studies about the virus’ presentation are continuously being done. It is not yet clear how the virus is transmitted from animals to humans or from human to human. That is whether the transmission is airborne, droplet or contact. However, for everyone’s safety, standard precautions must be followed universally. As for the vaccine, there is none currently available for the disease. Treatment for MERS-CoV infection is currently only supportive or based on a person’s condition.
For the entire world’s safety, I believe that vigilance on the part not only of the health care workers but everyone as a key to early detection. This is a disease of global concern. So everyone should be.