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How to avoid the Mers virus, according to health officials

How to avoid the Mers virus, according to health officials

Danny Lee

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Particles of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) coronavirus that emerged in 2012 are seen in an undated colorised transmission electron micrograph. Photo: Reuters

Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) is a viral disease affecting the respiratory system. It is caused by a coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) which was first discovered in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Mers is considered a deadlier but less infectious cousin of Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which killed more than 200 people in Hong Kong in 2003.

According to the WHO, the virus appears to hit most severely people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and lung disease.

The virus does not seem to pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, according to the global health body.

Symptoms

Fever, cough, and shortness of breath
Pneumonia
Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea
In severe cases, respiratory failure or organ failure (especially of the kidneys) or septic shock. This requires intensive care.
Preventive measures

Wear a surgical mask, cover your nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and dispose of mucus or phlegm in a lidded rubbish bin.
Keep hands clean: wash for 20 seconds with liquid soap and water, especially after sneezing, coughing or cleaning the nose, or rub hands with 70 to 80 per cent alcohol-based hand rub if they are not visibly dirty.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.
Seek medical advice promptly if respiratory symptoms develop.
Environmental hygiene tips

Keep your home clean: wipe and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as toys, door knobs, furniture, commonly shared items, and the floor, at least once daily – some viruses may survive for some time in the environment, but are easily destroyed by most detergents and other cleaning agents.
Maintain good ventilation, and avoid visiting crowded places with poor ventilation.
Sources: Centre for Health Protection;

US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organisation

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Tips for avoiding the Mers virus

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 May, 2015, 10:17am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 June, 2015, 9:34am

#MERSPrevention

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