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Camel Flu or MERS Virus

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

WHO , Updated May 2017

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Source of the virus :

MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus, which means it is a virus that is transmitted between animals and people. Studies have shown that humans are infected through direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels.

Although the majority of human cases of MERS have been attributed to human-to-human infections in health care settings, current scientific evidence suggests that dromedary camels are a major reservoir host for MERS-CoV and an animal source of MERS infection in humans. However, the exact role of dromedaries in transmission of the virus and the exact route(s) of transmission are unknown.

Approximately 80% of human cases have been reported by Saudi Arabia. What we know is that people get infected there through contact with infected dromedary camels or infected people.

Clinical features:

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

Pneumonia is common, but not always present.

Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported.

Some laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection are reported as asymptomatic, meaning that they do not have any clinical symptoms, yet they are positive for MERS following a laboratory test.

Approximately 35% of reported patients with MERS have died.

Treatment

No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available.

Treatment is supportive and based on the patient’s clinical condition.

Prevention

As a general precaution, anyone visiting farms, markets, barns, or other places where dromedary camels and other animals are present should practice general hygiene measures, including regular hand washing before and after touching animals, and should avoid contact with sick animals.

The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products, including milk and meat, carries a high risk of infection from a variety of organisms that might cause disease in humans.

Animal products that are processed appropriately through cooking or pasteurization are safe for consumption, but should also be handled with care to avoid cross contamination with uncooked foods. Camel meat and camel milk are nutritious products that can continue to be consumed after pasteurization, cooking, or other heat treatments.

Until more is understood about MERS-CoV, people with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immunocompromised persons are considered to be at high risk of severe disease from MERS-CoV infection. These people should avoid contact with camels, drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.

Health-care facilities

Infection prevention and control measures are critical to prevent the possible spread of MERS‐CoV in health‐care facilities. Facilities that provide care for patients suspected or confirmed to be infected with MERS‐CoV should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus from an infected patient to other patients, health‐care workers, or visitors. Health‐care workers should be educated and trained in infection prevention and control and should refresh these skills regularly.


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