SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

New research suggests MERS epidemic unlikely

New research suggests MERS cases are unlikely to reach epidemic levels. | Contributed photo

Researchers recently concluded new studies on Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and determined that it is unlikely that MERS will become an epidemic.

The team analyzed clinical-outcome reports from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to determine how the Sultanate of Oman is handling cases and how long patients remain contagious.

Most MERS-CoV patients have been hospitalized, lessening the likelihood that the virus will be a pandemic or epidemic.

Health professionals have implemented strict infection-control measures -- such as isolation, hygiene precautions and one-patient-per-room ratios -- to lessen the chance of spreading the disease.

Other studies have shown that MERS-CoV is contagious for a longer period of time than health professionals originally believed. These results reinforce the importance of taking precautions against the disease’s spread.

"These findings highlight the importance of applying infection-control measures in health care facilities where patients with suspected MERS-CoV infection are admitted,” Dr. Ziad Memish, a co-author of the study, said.

The first MERS-CoV case was reported in 2012. It is an emerging virus with a 40 percent mortality rate. More than 97 percent of the cases have been confirmed in the Middle East.

Previous studies show that people over 65 years old who contract MERS-CoV are 4.5 times more likely to die from the disease.

MERS-CoV symptoms include cough, pneumonia, dyspnea and  fever. Most MERS-CoV patients require intensive care to fully recover.

More details are available in the International Journal of Infectious Disease.

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