Health & Safety: MERS on the Move

Deadly Respiratory Virus Now in Asia

Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS) has now spread to both Malaysia and the Philippines according to news sources.

MERS kills about 50% of those infected through acute pneumonia and renal failure.

The World Health Organization has said that “MERS is a threat to the entire world” and the Centers for Disease Control is closely monitoring the situation.

MERS-CoV

MERS-CoV

The virus, first identified in 2012, has successfully spread from bats to camels and to humans.

There have been 243 confirmed cases of MERS with 93 fatalities making it an extremely deadly virus.

Of special note to firefighters and paramedics, the United Arab Emirates reported that their ten new cases last week were all health care workers who had treated a MERS patient who subsequently died.

MERS has a strong affinity for bronchial epithelial cells and can avoid typical immune responses.

Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

A symptomatic patient with recent travel to the Middle East would be of special concern.

Protective Measures:

– Avoid close contact.

– Use (at least) a fit-tested n95 respirator.

– If a respirator is not immediately available, use a facemask.

– Wear gloves, eye protection and gown.

–  Wash hands thoroughly. 

 

(sources:  CDC, NYT, Wiki)

 

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