Corona Virus / MERS
What are the symptoms of MERS-CoV?
It is not always possible to identify patients with MERS-CoV early as they may have mild or unusual symptoms. Common symptoms are acute, serious respiratory illness with fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, often with abnormal chest X-ray findings. In some cases this will progress to pneumonia and renal/kidney failure. In people with immune deficiencies, the disease may have an atypical presentation. It is important to note that the current understanding of illness caused by this infection is based on a limited number of cases and may change as we learn more about the virus.
How do people become infected with this virus?
We do not yet know how people become infected with this virus. Investigations are underway to determine the source of the virus, the types of exposure that lead to infection, the mode of transmission, and the clinical pattern and course of disease. What we do know is that both Camels and Bats are particularly important in the life cycle of this disease and that it is not as easily transmitted as Influenza for example.
Can the virus be transmitted from person to person?
Yes. We have now seen multiple clusters of cases in which human-to-human transmission has occurred. These clusters have been observed in health-care facilities, among family members and between co-workers. However, the mechanism by which transmission occurred in all of these cases, whether respiratory (e.g. coughing, sneezing) or direct physical contact with the patient or contamination of the environment by the patient, is unknown. Thus far, no sustained community transmission has been observed.
How do we avoid catching this?
People at high risk of contracting the disease should avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where the virus is known to be potentially circulating. General hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing and following food hygiene practices, should be adhered to. Avoiding contact with members of the general public who display symptoms is also advised. The World Health Organization is NOT recommending special screening points or advising restrictions on travel at this time.
There is not specific treatment for this illness management is supportive and will address any ongoing health issues that the patient may have. If you have concern about you or your family’s health then you need to consult a doctor. If you feel that yourself or a member of your family is showing symptoms suggestive of the illness then please inform your health care provider by telephone, to allow them to make appropriate arrangements for isolation.
Further information regarding this virus can be obtained from the WHO Global Alert and Response (GAR) and by following the links below.