Respiratory illness prevalent in the Middle East where some residents may be traveling soon
Detroit, MI – The Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness is encouraging residents to take precautions when traveling to the Middle East for the Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to minimize exposure to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). A typical case of MERS-CoV includes fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is also a common finding on examination.
The virus can spread from person to person through close contact. Transmission from infected patients to healthcare personnel has also been observed. There were two cases of MERS-CoV Virus in the United States in 2014 but according to the Center for Disease Control the risk of MERS-CoV to the general public remains low.
“As some of our residents prepare for trips to the Middle East, we want our residents to take the necessary steps to protect themselves against MERS-CoV, said Wayne County Health Officer, Dr. Mouhanad Hammami. “There have been no human cases of MERS-CoV confirmed in the United States this year and we want to keep it that way by advocating for our communities to use these tips to increase safety against the respiratory virus, said Hammami.
The following steps can be taken to reduce the risk of contracting MERS-CoV:
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
Avoid close contact, such as kissing, or sharing cups or eating utensils, with sick people.
Be sure you are up-to-date with all of your shots, and if possible, see your health care provider at least 4–6 weeks before travel to get any additional shots.
For travelers coming back from the Middle East, the incubation period for MERS (time between when a person is exposed to MERS-CoV and when they start to have symptoms) is usually about 5 or 6 days, but can range from 2-14 days. If you begin having symptoms or MERS-CoV and become ill, please see a doctor immediately. Remember to tell them about your recent travel.
At present, cases can only be confirmed through laboratory testing. There is no specific treatment; medical care is supportive and to help relieve symptoms. There is no vaccine. Since May 2015, the Republic of Korea has been investigating an outbreak of MERS-CoV. It is the largest known outbreak of MERS-CoV outside the Arabian Peninsula.
For more information on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/
For additional information on the Wayne County Health, Veterans and Community Wellness Department programs, visit www.waynecounty.com.