Health officials monitoring new virus threats in Western Hemisphere

MERS is the acronym for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which first emerged in 2012 in the countries of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It is spread from human to human by coughing and sneezing. Insects or rodents do not transmit MERS.

According to the information from OCMO, an infected person may have no symptoms, or a mild common cold, diarrhea and vomiting.  Affected persons may develop Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) with fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The statement issued Friday, states that complications include pneumonia and kidney failure. “Deaths occur in 36 percent of severely affected persons who have an underlying medical condition, such as uncontrolled diabetes or cancer,” the statement informs.

It states also, “There is no vaccine or medication cure for MERS-CoV at this time.  Affected persons are treated with fluids, oxygen, and antibiotics, if there is a secondary bacterial infection.”

Prevention and control actions, the statement recommends, involve “simple and well-known measures such as covering the cough and sneeze with tissue or a handkerchief and regular hand-washing with soap and water”.

The CMO states that the best protection is “maintaining good health through adequate rest; regular exercise; a diet based on ground provisions, fruits and green vegetables; and high levels of general cleanliness”. 

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports detection in the United States.   

In regards to the Zika Virus (ZIKAV), the OCMO informs that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits Dengue and Chikungunya, transmits this virus. Originating in Uganda and Tanzania, the virus is now in the Western Hemisphere, with reports coming out of Chile and Brazil. 

“Affected persons tend to have mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, pain leg swelling and reddish eyes for four to seven days.  There is no vaccine and no medication cure.  No deaths have been reported,” the information states. 

Preventative actions include searching your homes, yards, nearby empty lots and ghauts for mosquito breeding sites, and destroy them. 

However, the OCMO states that “there is no need for alarm or panic”, and that “there are no known cases in the federation”.

It continues, “Response measures are in place.  They are being updated and strengthened in conjunction with the OECS Commission, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the World Health Organization (WHO).”

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