(Feature) Who is most at risk with MERSCoV?

July 14, 2015 5:17 am 

By Leilani S. Junio

MANILA, July 12 (PNA) — If someone in the family experiences high fever, sneezing and coughing, or suffers flu-like symptoms, can it automatically be enough reason to suspect that he or she is suffering from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERSCoV), or at risk with it?

The answer of the Department of Health (DOH) "is it depends."

According to DOH spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, one can suspect he/she is possibly infected with MERSCoV with the following conditions:

* If the person has traveled to the Arabian Peninsula or has close contact with travelers from that region who were ill and developed symptoms of the disease.

* If the person is a health worker or working in the hospital and has been exposed to the virus of a MERSCoV patient.

* If the person is a close companion of a MERSCoV patient who has stayed here (if the patient is a traveler).

“Therefore, if a person has no history of close exposure to any possible MERSCoV patient, the symptoms that he/she is experiencing are possibly caused by other illnesses and there is no reason to be afraid that such symptoms are related to MERSCoV,” Dr. Lee-Suy said.

He cautioned, however, that even if such conditions are not reasons for one to be a MERSCoV suspect, it is still important that a person seek an immediate consultation in case he or she is having flu-like symptoms so that his/her condition will not worsen and lead to serious complications.

The DOH spokesperson said that those who suffer symptoms and suspect that they have the MERS virus with them should immediately seek consultation in any hospitals in the country.

He said it is also important for those who have travelled to countries where the MERSCoV or other infectious diseases originated to be honest in disclosing the details in the health declaration checklist or yellow form at the arrival area in the airport and seaport.

Dr. Arthur Dessi Roman, vice president of the Philippine Hospital Infection Control Society (PHICS), recently said in a health forum at Annabel's Restaurant on Tomas Morato Ave., Quezon City that it is very important for persons with compromised immune systems or with pre-existing medical conditions to safeguard themselves from any threat of different infectious diseases like MERSCoV.

Safeguarding involves boosting of the body’s natural defenses, he said.

“This can be done through having regular sleep, proper diet, drinking of plenty of fluids and adapting a healthy lifestyle — not engaging in smoking and drinking of alcoholic beverages and doing healthy physical activities,” Dr. Roman said.

He also said that droplet precautions should be added to the standard precautions when providing care to any patient with symptoms of acute respiratory infection.

“Healthcare facilities that provide care for patients suspected or confirmed to be infected with MERSCoV infection should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus from an infected patient to other patients, healthcare workers and visitors,” he explained.

Dr. Roman noted that most hospitals, through trainings provided by DOH and World Health Organizations (WHO), are aware of the procedures on the handling, reporting and even referral procedures of the treatment of infectious diseases.

He said that there are also well-equipped private hospitals that can handle the supportive treatment for MERSCoV patients in the country.

Other hospitals that cannot handle such cases or have limited capacity are advised to make a referral to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City and other DOH hospitals such as San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, Baguio General Hospital in Baguio City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, and Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.

In addition, hospitals are also given instruction on how to address patients under investigation (PUIs), like on initial check-up procedures, isolation procedures and analysis of the specimens for laboratory testing or confirmatory tests.

Right now, there is no exact cure yet for MERSCoV and there is no available vaccine to it.

The treatment is supportive in the sense that the basis of treatment is on treating the symptoms manifested by the patient so that such condition will be addressed and will not lead to serious complications.

The flu-like symptoms of MERSCoV are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

In some cases, the patient may also have diarrhea and experience nausea or vomiting.

The incubation period for MERSCoV — from exposure to the disease up to when symptoms begin to show — is usually five or six days, but in some cases, it can range to two weeks or 14 days. (PNA)



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