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MERS: Not a cause for panic

Doctor

Two new cases reported in Abu Dhabi on July 9

July 13, 2014 5:47 by



The UAE Ministry of Health confirmed two new cases of MERS coronavirus in Abu Dhabi last week.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is an acute respiratory illness that manifests with a number of symptoms, such as high fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the US Centre for Disease Control. The first case of MERS coronavirus was reported in Saudi Arabia in April 2012, after which the World Health Organisation highlighted 496 laboratory confirmed cases around the world between September 2012 and May 2014.

Kippreport speaks with Asha Prakash, a specialist in internal medicine at the NMC Specialty Hospital, to find out more about the disease.

“Although MERS corona virus infection is a fact, there is no need for undue panic or concern, as there are many other diseases with equal or higher risks for the population. This disease is being discussed now in detail because it’s a new virus and the scientific community is still studying it,” Prakash says.

While we felt that Ramadan may be an opportunity for the virus to spread, thankfully, we were wrong. The MERS spreads faster during spring months (March and April). “Large gatherings at malls and other events happen all of the time in the country as a way of life and no population outbreaks have been reported so far. Hence, Ramadan and Eid festivities and gatherings are not expected to bring about any large-scale outbreaks.”

However, usual precautionary methods are advised to prevent risks.

The doctor recommends practising good hand hygiene routines to reduce chance exposures, as well as washing raw foods properly before eating. “As camels can spread the MERS coronavirus, people should avoid or take precautions while visiting farms, camel pens or camel markets,” Prakash points out.

She also recommends people to refrain from consuming uncooked camel meat and raw camel milk.



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