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Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

Introduction

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, responsible for common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome. Since the discovery of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), it has affected 163 patients, with a fatality rate of 43-50% [2]. The virus appears to be active throughout Saudi Arabia, Middle East, Malaysia, and Korea etc. Most of the infections are originated from the Middle East countries.

Symptoms of Middle East respiratory syndrome

According to world health organization, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) may attribute no symptoms (asymptomatic) or mild respiratory problem to severe acute respiratory disease and death. Typical symptoms of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) are fever, cough, pneumonia and shortness of breath. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, may associate with fever [1]. Severe illness causes respiratory failure. Like the other virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) becomes more severe for older people, people with weakened immune systems, and people with chronic lung disease and diabetes.

Source of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

The origin of the virus is not fully known. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) transmitted from animals to humans. It is believed that it originated in bats and was transmitted to camels. Also from infected human Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is transmitted.

Diagnosis of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

Nasopharyngeal swabs or tracheal aspirates are collected from the patients and screened with a real-time reverse transcriptase PCR. Amplification targeted for both the upstream E protein (upE gene) and open reading frame 1a (ORF1a). Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is declared when both the tests are positive [2].

Treatment of Middle East respiratory syndrome

Despite the high fatality rate of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), neither any specific treatment nor any vaccine is available. Treatment is supportive and based on the patient's clinical condition. In severe condition of respiratory failure mechanical ventilation and an intensive care unit support are required. In paper [2] it has been reported that combination of ribavirin and interferon therapy was tried for the treatment of five Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) patients. But all of them died concluding that the ribavirin and interferon therapy is ineffective for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Precaution from Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

1. Anyone visiting places where camels and other animals are kept should practice general hygiene measures, which includes regular hand-wash before and after touching animals.

2. The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products, including milk must be avoided. However, camel meat and milk are nutritious foods and those can be consumed after pasteurization or proper cooking.

3. Appropriate measures should be taken to decrease the risk of infection from Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) to other patients, healthcare workers, or visitors in inpatient facility.

Reference

[1] "Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)", WHO; 2015, Available at: http://www.who.int/ csr/don/2013_12_02/en/index.html, last accessed on 6th June, 2015.
[2] Jaffar A. Al-Tawfiq, Hisham Momattin, Jean Dib , Ziad A. Memish , ``Ribavirin and interferon therapy in patients infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: an observational study," International Journal of Infectious Diseases, vol. 20, pp. 42-46, 2014.