Outbreak of MERS in Asia

 

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Press release date: 16th June 2015

There have been over 150 cases of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) reported in South Korea and one in China following an outbreak three weeks ago. 

MERS is a corona virus from the same family as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). It is usually fatal for approximately three to four patients out of every ten. The virus is believed to have entered the human population by dromedary camels in Saudi Arabi, where it was first reported in 2012. 

At present there is no cure or vaccine for this deathly illness. Typical symptoms of MERS include having a cough, fever and shortness of breath. Digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, may also occur. 

The Korean Health Ministry has reported that all those who died from MERS got the virus at hospital and were already being treated for another serious ailment. The disease is typically contracted by those caring for or living with infected patients. To limit the spread of the virus, two hospitals, over 2,000 schools and 19 universities have been closed. More than 5,200 individuals are also in quarantine in South Korea. 

Because the spread of the illness has been confined to health facilities and those who have died have suffered from an underlying condition, fears for a wider outbreak in society are lessened. The number of new cases being reported daily has also decreased. Officials are encouraging people to go about their daily lives as normal. 

Tropical Medical Bureau advises those travelling to South Korea to follow standard precautions at all times, such as regular hand washing and avoiding contact with people who are sick, as well as reducing the exposure of risk to air-borne diseases. You should be vigilant and seek medical assistance immediately if you suspect you have any symptoms. 

Dr Graham Fry, Medical Director at Tropical Medical Bureau commented, “There’s no need to overreact if you have plans to visit South Korea in the future. Check the news for daily updates on MERS and the spread of the outbreak. Those in South Korea right now should be extra careful when it comes to personal hygiene and stay far away from known infected areas. If you have returned from South Korea within the last two weeks and develop symptoms go your doctor straight away.”

For further information or to book an appointment, please contact the Tropical Medical Bureau on 1850 487674 or visit www.tmb.ie

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