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  • Keep Your Family Safe: What You Need to Know About MERS-CoV

    Be informed and keep safe.
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    As the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) grips South Korea, fear also continues to spread. Is there a need to panic now that the virus is in the Philippines again?

    Information on the second positive case of MERS-CoV in the country
    The virus is said to have come from the Middle East as the 36-year-old male foreigner who was confirmed positive flew in from there to the Philippines.  The case was confirmed and announced on July 6 by the Department of Health (DOH).

    He was admitted to the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City.  Health Secretary Janette Garin said that the patient may be on his way to recovery as he has showed only low counts of the virus.

    It can be recalled that the first MERS-CoV case in the country was of a nurse coming back from Saudi Arabia. She was tested positive in February and has recovered from the deadly virus.

    Here’s what you need to know about MERS-CoV, collated from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health, Medical News Today and CNN Philippines.

    Fast Facts

    • It’s a viral respiratory illness. It was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
    • It is speculated that the virus originated from an animal.
    • All cases have been linked to counties in the Arabian Peninsula.
    • Since 2012, there have been 1,179 recorded cases which includes at least 442 deaths (3-4 out of every 10)

    2015 outbreak

    • The outbreak in South Korea began when an employee of an agricultural products company returned from the Arabian Peninsula in May 2015
    • There have been more than 125 cases reported in South Korea as of June 2015
    • Those tested positive are mostly patients, staff and visitors of health care facilities
    • 35-40% of confirmed cases have died. Most severe cases have underlying chronic medical conditions

    Health matters

    • Symptoms: flu-like (fever, cough, chills and shortness of breath)
    • Incubation period: symptoms begin to show usually five to six days from exposure
    • Vaccine: none
    • Specific treatment for those infected: none


    • The virus does not seem to pass easily from person to person.
    • Transmission most commonly occurs through close contact, such as those providing care to a patient.
    • No evidence of airborne transmission, according to the World Health Organization.
    • No travel warning or restrictions have been issued that are related to the virus

    What to do if suspected of MERS-CoV
    Dr. Lyndon Lee-Suy, head of the Emerging Infectious Disease Division of DOH, listed five laboratories that can handle MERS-CoV cases, namely:

    • Lung Center of the Philippines, Quezon City
    • San Lazaro Hospital, Manila
    • Baguio General Hospital, Baguio City
    • Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Cebu City
    • Southern Philippines Medical Center, Davao City
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    How to keep you and your family safe
    As we currently know, the virus is not airborne. It can only be transmitted through close contact with an infected person. This is why most who were confirmed positive of the virus stay or work at health care facilities.

    • As such, it might be wiser to stay away from hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities.
    • All cases have been linked to the Arabian Peninsula and its neighboring regions. Even though there are no travel warnings, it’s still best to refrain from traveling to these areas.
    • Wash hands frequently
    • Avoid consuming undercooked meat
    • Avoid food prepared under unhygienic conditions
    • Wash fruit and vegetables before consuming

    All these considered, “with so little still known about the virus strain, any advice or recommendation should be considered temporary and subject to change,” says Medical News Today.

    News Sources:
    July 6, 2015. "DOH confirms 2nd case of MERS-CoV in Philippines". philstar.com
    July 6, 2015. "DOH confirms MERS-CoV case in PH". cnnphilippines.com

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